18/12/2017 09:11 GMT | Updated 18/12/2017 17:55 GMT

Rebecca Dykes Suspect Arrested In Beirut After Diplomat Found Strangled

'We are devastated.'

A taxi driver has been arrested in connection with the death of a British woman who worked at the British embassy in Beirut.

Rebecca Dykes was found strangled and dumped by the side of a motorway east of the capital on Saturday morning.

Lebanese security forces arrested a man on suspicion of killing the 30-year-old on Monday morning, a security source told Reuters.

Family handout
Rebecca Dykes was found strangled and dumped on a roadside in Beirut 

The Lebanese man, believed to be 41, is a driver for Uber and was arrested on drug-related charges in the period 2015-17 the source said, adding the motive appeared criminal and not political and that the suspect had immediately confessed to the crime. 

An Uber spokesman said in an email: “We are horrified by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts are with the victim and her family. We are working with authorities to assist their investigation in any way they can”.

The incident is the latest to highlight the issue of safety at Uber, which was stripped of its operating licence in London in September over concerns about its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers.

Lebanon’s NNA news agency reported the suspect had picked Dykes up in his taxi in Beirut’s Gemmayzeh district on Friday evening before assaulting and killing her. It said police traced his car through surveillance cameras on the highway. 

Mohamed Azakir / Reuters
Cars pass the area where Dykes' body was found 

Dykes’s family said they have been left “devastated” following her death, while embassy staff have spoken of their shock.

Authorities looking into her exact cause of death are investigating whether Dykes, who had been due to fly home for Christmas, was sexually assaulted.

A family spokesman said: “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca. We are doing all we can to understand what happened.

“We request that the media respect our privacy as we come together as a family at this very difficult time.”

In a later statement, released by the Foreign Office on Monday, her family said she was “simply irreplaceable and we will never fully recover from this loss”.

Dykes was working as a programme and policy manager with the Department for International Development and as policy manager with the Libya team at the Foreign Office (FCO), according to her LinkedIn page.

She had previously worked as an Iraq Research Analyst with the FCO.

British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter said: “The whole embassy is deeply shocked, saddened by this news.

“My thoughts are with Becky’s family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss. We’re providing consular support to her family & working very closely with Lebanese authorities who are conducting police investigation.”

Mohamed Azakir / Reuters
Gloves are seen on the ground at the scene where Dykes was found 

Dykes, a University of Manchester graduate, also had a masters in International Security and Global Governance from Birkbeck, University of London.

She was a former pupil of Malvern Girls’ College and Rugby School and had spent time at a Chinese International School.

A Department for International Development spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with Becky’s family and friends at this very upsetting time.

“There is now a police investigation and the FCO is providing consular support to Becky’s family and working with the local authorities.”

The Foreign Office said it was in contact with the Lebanese authorities.

“Following the death of a British woman in Beirut, we are providing support to the family,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.

“We remain in close contact with local authorities. Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.”