Smirking as he brandishes a semi-automatic Kalashnikov rifle, this is the Uber driver accused of raping and murdering a young female British diplomat in Lebanon.
Chilling photographs, unearthed by MailOnline, offer a disturbing insight in the life of 29-year-old murder suspect Tarek Hawchieh.
The taxi driver was arrested last week after Rebecca Dykes, 30, was sexually assaulted and strangled to death when she took a cab home from a popular tourist bar in Beirut.
Her body was left dumped on the roadside with local media speculating she had been raped and then tried to run away – only for the suspect to chase her and drag her back to the car before strangling her.
Victim: A senior police source told MailOnline Hawchief confessed and said he raped and murdered British diplomat Rebecca Dykes because she ‘pretty’ and foreign
Tragically for Miss Dykes, it appears her fate had been sealed the moment she entered the cab, senior police sources claimed.
‘He said he found her pretty, wearing a short skirt…and so he decided to rape her as it would be easy as she was a foreigner,’ the source told MailOnline.
Hawchieh reportedly confessed almost immediately to Lebanese police that he murdered the diplomat after being confronted with CCTV evidence.
Uber’s app also allegedly linked the driver to her murder along with the footage. Initial media reports suggested she had been raped at least once.
Speaking outside her home on Friday, his mother Um Hassen said if her son was guilty he belonged ‘behind bars’ as she broke down in tears.
Ms Hassen, who lives in a rundown block of flats in an impoverished suburb of Beirut, said: ‘I’m both frustrated and depressed about what happened. If this is really his fault then he should stay in jail and remain there.’
Confirming the man in the image brandishing a gun was Hawchieh, she broke down in tears, adding: ‘I don’t know what happened with my son, truly I don’t. What Tarek is alleged to have done was very wrong.’
A Facebook profile for Hawchieh – whose name has differed in reports because of phonetic translations from Arabic – gives a glimpse of a depraved, criminal personality.
While some pictures show him visiting religious monuments, in other snaps he is larking around with friends drinking Jägermeister.
In 2014, he uploaded a selection of pictures of him wearing a white vest posing with a semi-automatic rifle.
In one picture he holds the gun to the air, while in another he brandishes it across his chest.
Later in the same year he uploaded a disturbing video appearing to show a sex act involving a fish.
Despite a leaked criminal records check document showing Hawchieh had no previous convictions, Lebanese Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk has since confirmed Hawchieh does have a criminal record.
Critical to him getting a job at Uber was a certificate which showed he had no criminal history – which he succeeded in doing, despite being in prison twice.
Reports have detailed that the suspect served six months in prison ten years ago for motorcycle theft. It is also understood that he was in prison more recently for drug offences.
‘murdered just hours before she was due to fly home for Christmas.
Embassy officials were alerted to her absence when she did not arrive in the UK the next day to stay with her family for Christmas.
She had been enjoying an evening out with friends at a bohemian bar in the city and was last seen getting into a taxi around midnight.
She was later discovered with a rope tied around her throat and her clothing had been ripped.
Colleagues found her to be ‘smart, sharp’ and ‘classy’ and ‘not at all naïve, but well travelled’.
Her family released a statement describing her as ‘simply irreplaceable’, adding that they ‘would never recover from the loss’.
According to our inquiries, Hawchieh had only been working for Uber for ten days.
He was arrested less than 48 hours after the incident which is believed to have taken place in the early hours of Saturday, December 16.
Uber said all its drivers in Lebanon must be ‘fully licensed by the government and must have a clear judicial record’.
A spokesman insisted that they double checked the driver’s documents.
Friends describe Hawchieh as a ‘troubled individual’ who has been struggling to cope with a drug habit, a loan from the bank and problems with his partner.
They said his pregnant Ethiopian wife was currently in prison for visa violations.
Speaking to MailOnline, Hawchieh’s former boss at a metal repair shop described him as a ‘charismatic character’ but as someone who had a history of drug abuse and theft.
The manager, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘Stealing and drugs were his thing. He was always stealing small amounts of money lying around so a couple of years back, when he was here, I had to fire him.
He was quite likeable, chatty, people liked him. But he was always getting into trouble with the law
‘He was very convincing. You would believe him when he told you he didn’t take the money. I gave him a second chance just very recently for one day welding tent frames. He was very good at his job but again, this time, he stole some money and a customer’s telephone from his car.
‘He was quite likeable, chatty, people liked him. But he was always getting into trouble with the law. He’d been in prison twice before and he couldn’t take control of his life.’
Miss Dyke’s body was flown on Friday in an RAF military plane from Beirut to the UK.
Authorities in Lebanon are taking their time putting together a water tight case against him due to the status of Dykes and hundreds of millions of pound of aid given each year to Lebanon, a country ranked by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
– Mail Online