Strangled Somerset mum 'unlawfully killed' in Egypt

PUBLISHED: 13:45 28 June 2013 | UPDATED: 15:04 28 June 2013

Coroner's Court

Coroner's Court

Archant

A SOMERSET mum of three who moved abroad and married an Egyptian fisherman was found strangled and wrapped in a bedsheet after a buglary at her home, a coroner has said.

Frances Ann Rossiter, aged 69, who had been involved in running The New Inn in Wedmore and The Queen’s Hotel in Burnham, had been described as ‘bright’ and ‘full of life’ by friends.

She had moved to Hurgharda in Egypt and later married Sayyid Jamal Sayyid Shalaby in an Egyptian civil ceremony known as an Orfi, but the relationship later broke down and he became abusive after he was no longer able to milk her for money.

Somerset West Coroner’s Court in Taunton heard how two men, left anonymous due to ongoing Egyptian legal proceedings, tricked their way into Ms Rossiter’s home before covering her mouth, smothering her with a cushion and strangling her to death with a cord.

The attack was so violent it broke bones and cartilage in Ms Rossiter’s neck.

The court heard how the pair, a 29-year-old man (A) and a 17-year-old male high school student (B) stole items including a laptop, blood-stained gold-earrings and a microwave.

They then passed the items to C, the 22-year-old wife of A, who sold them.

They were said to have been friends of Mr Shalaby but ‘he was not involved and knew nothing about it’, the court was told.

Ms Rossiter was found on June 8 2012 stuffed in a cupboard and wrapped in a bedsheet after nearby friend Heather Down noticed the lights on and the windows shut for more than a day – an act out of character for her – and could not get hold of her by phone.

Ms Down used a spare key to let herself into the apartment and found the place in a state, with drag marks made in Egyptian tea leading from the living room into the bedroom, where the body was hidden.

She then checked the cupboard in the bedroom and found the body.

She said: “She had been wrapped up in sheets and clothing and was on her knees facing us. I told Sayidd to leave the flat as it was a crime scene.

“I think I was supposed to find the body.”

The inquest heard how Ms Rossiter had met Mr Shalaby after moving to Egypt three years ago after a holiday but he began to milk her for cash.

They moved in together, but the court how Mr Shalaby then began to ask for money to buy multiple cars, a boat engine, a Jeep, and she legally signed over the rights to half of her apartment.

She would also leave money on the side for him every day, and he would send cash to his family.

But Shalaby then married his cousin and fathered a child with her, which the courts heard had been arranged years ago and he felt ‘bound’ by.

Their relationship broke down and though they got back together at one point, Ms Rossiter decided to take his half of the flat back and stopped giving him money.

He began to be verbally abusive and told her he had put a ‘hex’ on her.

She returned to the UK after Mr Shalaby ‘disappeared’ for two weeks and had apparently been planning to return to Highbridge around the time of her death.

Friends speaking at the inquest said she had been aware of how younger Egyptian men would find older European women, but that she was ‘in control’.

Friend Paula Hopley said: “She had been a precocious character very full of life and very social.

“She appeared to me to be a shell of the character she had been. She had also lost a lot of weight.

“I want to stress that Fran was an intelligent person.

“She was aware of the situation she was in but circumstances overtook that situation.”

Coroner Michael Rose said: “This is a very tragic case. The deceased Frances Ann Rossiter was only 69 years of age, and I understand she had had two marriages that sadly ended in divorce, she had three children, two boys, one daughter, and she was by all accounts a bright woman.

“I don’t know that he was intending to fleece her or just to better himself

“She had a life to live.

“It is not for me to say whether he betrayed her, it may be that he had, I don’t know.”

The coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing – used to cover murder, manslaughter and gross criminal negligence.

The cause of death was given as asphyxiation by strangulation.

Investigations in the Egyptian courts are continuing.

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