A couple who deny having sex in the back of a Dubai taxi admit they were "drinking all day" before the alleged incident.
High-flying English executive Rebecca Blake and Irish welder Conor McRedmond appeared before a judge to face charges of having consensual sex outside marriage -- a crime punishable by jail in the Islamic United Arab Emirates. They also faced charges of indecency and drinking alcohol.
At Dubai Criminal Court, Ms Blake (29) and Mr McRedmond (28) denied the two sex charges but admitted to drinking all day before they were arrested.
Judge Abdulaziz Mohammad Al Saadni, via a court translator, told the accused: "You are charged with a breach of honour by carrying out a consensual illegal act and that in a taxi you took off your clothes on Sheikh Zayed road and engaged in an indecent act."
The pair shook their heads when the two charges -- the first relating to having consensual sex and the second to stripping off in public -- were read out in court. When the translator read out a third charge relating to consumption of alcohol, Ms Blake said: "I had been drinking all day."
Mr McRedmond, of Tullamore, Co Offaly, added: "I had been drinking all day too."
Their lawyer Shaker Al Shammary asked to present their defence but the judge, who was standing in as a substitute, adjourned the case to give them a chance of a fair trial before a permanent judge. Speaking outside the court Mr Al Shammary said he expects them to be acquitted of the sex charges.
Ms Blake was sacked from her £100,000-a-year job as a recruitment consultant for Manpower in Dubai following the scandal.
She and Mr McRedmond are facing a lengthy prison sentence if they are found guilty. The pair were arrested on May 4 after a 10-hour drinking binge when a taxi driver pulled over and called police.
According to the public prosecution papers: "The Asian driver said he picked up the couple from the Irish Village (bar) and saw them touching and kissing each other on the back seat of the cab. He was looking at them in the mirror and decided to inform police."
Both the taxi driver and policeman are expected to give evidence.
Although the couple have denied having sex or stripping in the cab, Ms Blake admitted after her arrest that she was "no saint" and had drunk so much, the whole incident was a "blur".
Ms Blake, from Dorking, Surrey, had started drinking at midday at a hotel brunch with free-flowing wine, then indulged in a happy hour session at the bar before moving to the Irish Village, where she met Mr McRedmond and carried on drinking with him.
They left the bar at 10.30pm and were arrested within minutes.
The policeman who approached the cab said he saw Ms Blake naked on the back seat with "the man hugging her".
When he was arrested, Mr McRedmond told officers he had been hugging Blake because she was "sad".
The pair were held for five days in cockroach-infested cells after their arrest, described by Ms Blake as "hell".
"It was vile -- the worst nightmare you could possibly imagine," she said shortly after her release.
Consensual sex outside marriage and indecency each carry a prison term of between one month and three years while consumption of alcohol is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to £340