A British businessman has been murdered and his wife kidnapped after armed raiders stormed their exclusive Kenyan beach resort.
By Mark Hughes, Mike Pflanz in Nairobi, Martin Beckford and Peter Hutchison
7:00AM BST 12 Sep 2011
David Tebbutt, 58, a finance director at Faber & Faber, the publishing house based in Bloomsbury, is believed to have been shot dead while attempting to resist kidnap.
His wife Judith, 57, was taken hostage by the gunmen who are believed to have forced her on to a speedboat. It is not known where she is.
The couple, of Bishop’s Stortford, Herts, were staying at the Kiwayu Safari Village, a resort that boasts 18 thatched cottages along a mile of sheltered private beach.
Rooms cost from £280 per person per night and visitors have included Tracey Emin, the artist, and Imelda Staunton, the actress.
The gunmen stormed the resort at about 4am yesterday. It is less than 30 miles from the border between Kenya and Somalia and it has been suggested that the attackers were Somali and possibly pirates.
Mathew Iteere, the Kenyan police commissioner, told local media that the attackers were able to enter the couple’s seaside bungalow due to the lack of security.
He said: “They gained entry very easily because only a piece of cloth was used in the place of the door.”
It has been suggested that the attack could have been carried out by Islamist terrorists, rather than pirates.
Reports suggested Mrs Tebbutt was taken by an Islamist group Harakat al-Shabab al Mujahideen, an extremist group based in Somalia.
But Mr Iteere said that his officers so far had no evidence to suggest the attack had been carried out by a terrorist group.
He said: “So far we are treating it as a bandit attack. They may contact us demanding a ransom. Maybe they are from Somalia but we cannot be certain.”
If Somali pirates are behind the kidnapping, it would represent the first time western hostages had been snatched on land, rather than at sea.
Mr Tebbutt ran the London Marathon twice for the Book Trade Charity, which supports people in the publishing industry, and was on its board for a decade. David Hicks, the chief executive of the charity, paid tribute to him last night.
“He was a very good bloke, it’s quite devastating. He was very dedicated to us, he was such a nice guy.” Mr Tebbutt was at the publisher Harvill when it brought out the first English translation of one of the Wallander detective novels.
He was also a member of the Society of Bookmen, a literary dinner club. Mr Hicks added: “He fairly recently had a hip replacement but I think he was gradually getting back to fitness and was hoping to do the marathon again.”
The couple lived at the same address in Bishop’s Stortford for 28 years and have a 25-year-old son, Oliver.
A neighbour of the Tebbutts, who asked not to be named, said the couple particularly liked Kenya, having visited Nairobi a few years ago.
“Now that their son is grown up they like travelling together a lot, often twice a year,” she said. “They go on quite adventurous holidays and have a very happy life.”
There have been occasional reports of security threats against tourists around Kiwayu, but it is understood that there was no current specific warning in place.
The resort is managed by a British-Kenyan, George Moorhead, and his Italian wife Simone Pelizzoli. Its website reassures visitors that it takes security “very seriously”.