Page last updated at 23:31 GMT, Sunday, 25 October 2009

Arrests over Kenya tourist deaths

A beach in Mombasa
Gang attacks in Mombasa can happen at any time, the Foreign Office advises

Two people have been arrested over the deaths of a British couple on holiday in Mombasa, Kenyan police have said.

Norman Joel, 70, and his wife Rita, 67, from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, were reported to have been killed in a robbery but this has not been confirmed.

Friends say the "lovely couple" were regular visitors to Kenya and were trying to buy a property there.

Neighbour Jon Casey, 28, said Mr Joel had been robbed in Mombasa during a visit last year.

The nurse said: "It's just shocking to hear what's happened to them, it's really upsetting. I have known them for four years, they are a lovely, generous couple.

'Absolute diamond'

"Tony is a really nice chap and Rita is an absolute diamond."

The couple flew to Kenya's second city a fortnight ago and were due to return to the UK this week.

Mr Casey said they had been married for 20 years and Mrs Joel had a son, Richard, from a previous marriage.

Neighbour Denise Matthews, 49, said the retired couple had lived at their flat for about 10 years and regularly travelled despite both having minor disabilities.

She said: "Rita had trouble with her wrists and Tony had one or two problems, but they managed to get about.

"They went to Kenya quite often. I think they had been there three times this year. They usually brought me back some little trinket when they went away."

They also enjoyed walking their dogs and gardening, the shop assistant added.

She said: "They were lovely people. Very quiet. A lovely couple. Very close."

The British High Commission was told of the deaths on 15 October and a post-mortem examination has been held.

A Foreign Office (FO) spokeswoman said: "There are no further details on the cause of death at this stage.

"We are in contact with the family and will be keeping them updated on information we receive from the Kenyan authorities."

FO advice to British travellers to Kenya states: "Muggings and armed attacks by gangs can occur at any time, particularly in Nairobi and Mombasa.

"Avoid walking around after dark as attacks can occur anywhere, but especially in isolated areas such as empty beaches."

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