Investigation Discovery’s ‘Death on the Beach: Egypt: Terror in Paradise’ chronicles the brutal attack of terrorism that left 88 people dead and hundreds injured in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in late July 2005. Amongst the 11 UK natives dead in the attacks were 28-year-old Jeremy Lakin and his girlfriend, Annalie Vickers, 31. The couple had gone on vacation to escape the trauma and horrors they had faced in London during an early July 2005 attack. However, little were they aware of what destiny would hold for them in what they deemed as a getaway trip.
Who Were Jeremy Lakin and Annalie Vickers?
Situated as an oasis between the Sinai Peninsula’s desert and the Red Sea, Sharm El Sheikh, an enchanting resort town on the far eastern side of Egypt, heavily relies on tourism for its economic sustenance. In July 2005, Jeremy Lakin, a 28-year-old adventurer, was set to embark on a trip to this picturesque destination. Jeremy, the eldest of the Lakin brothers, had been an avid scuba diver for years, a passion nurtured since his 16th birthday when his family gifted him a PADI diving course.
Described as lively, sometimes cheeky, and always protective, Jeremy had a vibrant childhood. Having worked for an American-owned company specializing in management information systems, he returned from travels in Australia and Thailand in 2000 and secured a job in London. In early 2005, a few months before his planned Sharm El Sheikh journey, Jeremy began dating Annalie Vickers, a 31-year-old colleague. Their relationship, initially concealed due to workplace policies, blossomed.
Annalie, born in Northampton, held a prominent position as the European Director of a London-based information systems company, the same workplace where Jeremy was employed. As a result of their secretive romance, Jeremy’s family only met Annalie once, and her parents never encountered Jeremy. The couple, residing together in London, found themselves caught in the chaos of the July 7, 2005, bombings that targeted London’s public transport system. The traumatic experience prompted them to seek solace and escape the city.
Feeling unsafe in London, Annalie expressed the need for a getaway to forget the horrors. The couple chose Sharm El Sheikh, an ideal destination for scuba diving. While Annalie had experienced fantastic diving in Taba, Egypt, in 2004, she opted for Sharm El Sheikh to avoid the bombing in Taba in October 2004. On July 16, 2005, a mere nine days after the London bombings, Jeremy and Annalie were preparing for the 2,400 km journey from Gatwick, London, to Sharm El Sheikh International Airport.
How Did Jeremy Lakin and Annalie Vickers Die?
According to the show, the couple was in contact with their family throughout their vacation as they scuba-dived, swam, and relaxed on the gorgeous beaches of Sharm El Sheikh, keeping their phones switched off. A week later, on July 23, the anticipated day for the couple’s return home, Jeremy’s parents were startled as they woke up on Saturday morning and turned on the news. Shockingly, reports of bombings in Sharm El Sheikh filled the airwaves, with a ticker tape message confirming the incident at the bottom of the screen.
Around 6:30 am on July 23, Annalie’s parents also received devastating news from their son Daniel residing in Japan. Unable to establish contact with Annalie, her parents contacted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the travel company responsible for the couple’s trip. Unfortunately, neither entity could provide any information at that moment. The distressed parents of both Jeremy and Annalie then connected before reaching out to the Sharm El Sheikh hotel where the couple had been staying.
The hotel’s reception conveyed the grim message that the couple’s bed had not been slept in. As the families grappled with the unfolding tragedy, they pieced together information through witness accounts and public releases. Sharm El Sheikh had experienced three bombing attacks by suicide bombers. The couple’s parents arrived together in Sharm El Sheikh on July 24 evening, where they convened with the hotel manager, a member of the tourist group, and an operative from the Emergency Response Team.
From the outset, they were informed by local authorities that Jeremy and Annalie were believed to be deceased, as they had not been identified among the injured in various hospitals. Determined to unravel the truth, the parents visited the first two bomb sites, ruling out the possibility of their children being there. One site was primarily a large hotel, while the other was a marketplace mostly inhabited by Egyptians than tourists. They turned their attention to the third bomb site called the Taxi Rank, where the nightlife buzzed with bars.
The parents felt optimistic that the couple had been there to experience the vibrant scene. Unlike the West, the show noted that the Egyptian authorities did not rely much on forensics. They swept the victims’ belongings and debris by the side of the road while the blood was hosed off the street. Unable to extract much information, the parents tracked Jeremy’s credit card records to find he had last purchased items at a diving school. When they visited the institution, the attendant produced a green ziplock bag with the items the two had bought.
The parents immediately recalled seeing a similar bag at the third bomb scene — outside the Moevenpick Hotel that killed six tourists — and retrieved the bloody item from the swept-aside evidence. Around a week after the bombings, the authorities contacted Jeremy’s parents, taking them to a mortuary in Al Tur, about 70 miles away from the city, to identify their son’s body. Annalie’s remains were found a few days later with the help of DNA. The third bomb site was confirmed to be their death site after her blood was found on the retrieved green bag.
What Happened to Abdullah Azzam Brigades?
In the aftermath of the 2005 Sharm El Sheikh bombing, Egyptian authorities initially held back information about their investigation. However, they disclosed a crucial detail within days, revealing that DNA extracted from one of the suspected suicide bombers, identified as Moussa Badran, linked him to Islamic militants in Sinai. This led investigators to believe that the attacks were carried out by Egyptian militants.
Using internal intelligence, the police made arrests, primarily targeting individuals from Bedouin areas in the Sinai Peninsula. Weeks later, on August 1, another suspect, Mohammad Fulayfill, was reported shot dead by police during a gunfight. While the al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigade had promptly claimed responsibility for the bombings, their actual involvement was not ruled out.
In the subsequent months, the Egyptian government asserted that a majority of the suspects responsible for the bombing had been captured. However, no additional details about the trials or sentencing were released. The parents collaborated to gain support from MPs and presented a private members bill in the House of Lords. The legislation was enacted to provide British victims of terrorism overseas with the same support as victims in the UK in 2012.