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25-year-old Ali Babitu Kololo, a hotel worker and father of two faces charges of violent robbery and kidnapping/FILE


Tebbutt recounts kidnap from Lamu resort

25-year-old Ali Babitu Kololo, a hotel worker and father of two faces charges of violent robbery and kidnapping/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 26 – Judith Tebbutt, the British woman who was freed by Somali pirates in March after staying in captivity for six months has for the first time recounted how she was captured from Lamu.

Tebutt was released on March 22 after her son reportedly paid 600,000 pounds to the pirates who had killed her husband.

She narrated her harrowing ordeal via a video link to a court in Lamu during the hearing of a case against the only suspect to be tried over the kidnap this week, according to British paper The Telegraph.

25-year-old Ali Babitu Kololo, a hotel worker and father of two faces charges of violent robbery and kidnapping.

According to the mail online, the hotel worker has admitted helping lead the gunmen to the Tebutt’s room but claims he did so only after the pirates kidnapped him.

The 57-year-old social worker recounted to the court in detail the moment when she woke to find several gunmen had burst into the grass-woven hut where she and her husband, David, were sleeping.

“Mrs Tebbutt told of seeing her husband grappling with the intruders as one of them dragged her from the room” the paper wrote.

She told of how she was hit in the back with the butt of a rifle and forced to run along the beach, before being bundled into a boat and driven away. Her husband, a 58-year-old.

Publishing executive was killed in the raid that occurred at a holiday resort in Kiwayu, north of Lamu.
The couple were the only guests at the resort and Tebutt recalls having felt nervous at staying at the hotel until her late husband re-assured her.

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“I thought to myself that this was pretty weird,” she was quoted in the mail online as having said in the video link to the court. “I was beginning to get this very strange feeling that something didn’t feel right.”

Her husband reassured her by saying it would be “a Robinson Crusoe experience”. On their first night, the couple had walked along the beach to enjoy a fish supper before heading back to the room. “We just got straight into bed and when we slept, we normally started off sleeping holding hands, we always did that,” she said. “The next thing I was aware of was David. I remember him shouting ‘What the —- is going on?’

“He looked as though that he was grappling with something that was taller than him. I couldn’t see anything or anyone. I was then aware of someone prodding me. I looked and saw there were two men there, both had rifles, and I remember thinking ‘I wonder if this is security or something,’ because it was just so unreal.

“I got pulled out of bed. One man was holding the tops of my arms very tightly and pulling me towards the door. I remember shouting ‘What’s happening? What’s happening?’ and I could still see David and the next thing I knew I was out of the door.”

Moments later she lost sight of her husband and was dragged to a waiting boat. The pirates punched her, hit her with their guns and pulled her hair when she stumbled, she said.

“We continued running on the sand and I was thinking that this was good because this would leave footprints,” the mail online quoted her as having said in the video link.

“I remember being pulled into the water and I could see a boat because the moon was very bright. I remained calm and did not panic. Then I was lifted up and thrown into the boat where I sat.

“We sped off. We just went straight out to sea. I remember saying ‘Where are you taking me? What’s going to happen?’ and this person was rubbing his thumb and fingers saying ‘Money, money, money’.”

On arrival on land, Tebutt told the court she was ordered to lie down before the pirates covered her with a tarpaulin.

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“The next thing I remember was the boat slowing down and I then sat up immediately and was aware that it was dawn,” she said. “We were coming into a mangrove swamp,” she recalled.

She gave no further details about her time in captivity, nor did she say when she realized her husband was dead. She was released in March after her son, Oliver, reportedly paid a ransom.


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