Report by Gwennan Campbell
The mum of a young woman who was raped and murdered in Qatar has written to Wales' World Cup squad asking them to honour her daughter.
‘Beautiful, fun and inspirational’ - these were the words used to describe Lauren Patterson by those who knew her best.
After losing her father, she moved to Qatar in 2011 to work as a primary school teacher. But in October 2013, she went missing in Doha.
Lauren had been back home in the UK for a couple of days to attend a family funeral. She travelled back to Qatar on Friday, 11th of October.
After failing to get hold of her daughter, Alison Patterson became increasingly concerned.
“The next day, I never heard anything from her, which was very unusual for Lauren. We used to message, whatsapp all the time.
“I was really concerned. I contacted friends that were out there and asked them if they knew where Lauren was.
“They said that she’d met up with a girlfriend that evening and they’d gone out for drinks. Later that evening, some friends of the girlfriend offered to take Lauren and her home.
“We later found out that he hadn’t taken Lauren home. He’d taken her back to his house and we were told that he’d raped her, stabbed her and then he later took her out into the desert, dug a pit, put coales in and tried to dispose of her body.”
She said the toughest thing about the whole ordeal was not being able to say goodbye to her daughter.
“They said I couldn’t go and say goodbye to my daughter because it would be too traumatic but they said I needed to give my DNA.
“I think that was one of the hardest things - not being able to say goodbye to her.”
Qatar police arrested two people in the desert after they went back to see if Lauren’s body had disappeared.
Her killer was given a death penalty. But at the last hearing, Lauren’s family were told that he would be charged with manslaughter and would only serve a 10 and a half year sentence - something that Alison is struggling to comprehend.
“I wanted him to be in prison for life - that to me would be fair. I just feel like the sentence doesn’t fit the crime at all.
“He can get a job, get married and have a normal life, all things that he took away from my daughter.”
With the world cup being held in Qatar, Alison has written a letter to every member of Wales’ squad asking them to pay tribute to her daughter when they score.
“Out of such a difficult thing, it would be nice if Lauren could be remembered. I don't feel she was remembered in Qatar. There was no news coverage, there was nothing.
“So this way if anyone could do the sign of the L for Lauren it would mean so much to us and to all of Lauren’s family and friends. But also the L for change in Qatar.”
The FAW are yet to respond to Alison’s letters but in a press conference ahead of the tournament, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said he would be interested in seeking more information about the case.
He said: “I think it’s a matter for the team and what they decide to do but I’d be interested in getting a clearer briefing of what’s happened and if there are opportunities for us to talk about it and indeed to have that conversation with the First Minister as well."
While Alison remains hopeful, she has an important message for those travelling to Qatar.
“I wish everyone that they have a wonderful time out there and enjoy the football but they should be cautious. They really should be cautious.”
With the eyes of the world now on Qatar, Alison is hoping that the country will take this opportunity to change for good.
A Qatari government official said: “Crime prevention, and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all women in Qatar have always been a top priority. This is reflected in the fact that Qatar is the safest country in the Arab region, and consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world.
“We remain committed to enforcing protections for women and providing access to justice. Our thoughts are with the victim's family as they continue to mourn their loss.”