Two sentenced to hang for yacht killings



Two men were sentenced to hang last night after being found guilty of the cold- blooded executions of four people aboard a British racing yacht in the Caribbean.

The mandatory death penalty was passed on killers Mellanson Harris, 23, and Marvin Joseph, 22, just minutes after a jury returned guilty verdicts in the 1994 murders, on the paradise island of Barbuda.

It took the five-man and four-woman jury just one hour and 25 minutes to reach their unanimous verdicts of guilty to capital murder.

Mr Justice Redhead told both men: "It is the verdict of this court that you should be taken to a lawful place of execution where you will suffer the penalty of death by hanging and upon which your body shall be buried within the prison. God have mercy on your souls."

The only reaction from Harris was a smile, which spread across his face as he nodded his head. Joseph kept staring at the Judge.

The two men had been convicted after an investigation by Scotland Yard officers, who had been drafted in to help local detectives trace the killers of British yacht skipper Ian Cridland and his deckhand, Tom Williams, both from Hampshire, and two American guests, Bill and Kathy Cleaver.

The four were aboard the 65ft racing ketch Computa Center Challenger, which was moored in a remote bay beside the West Indian island of Barbuda - 27 miles north of Antigua - when they were attacked.

Harris, Joseph and a third man, Donald Samuel, 23, boarded the boat in the middle of the night, intent on robbery.

The three men bound and gagged the four sailors and stole several thousand dollars and a number of personal items from the yacht. They then shot them from point-blank range, killing them instantly.

Detective Superintendant Mick Lawrence, who headed the investigation, said immediately after the verdict: "Two years ago, these two men carried out four cold-blooded murders aboard the yacht.

"I am delighted for the sake of the relatives of those who died that we were able to trace, detain and finally convict those responsible for the barbaric murders.

"Today the course of justice was completed with the rightful conviction for a killing which was without reason."

The two killers now have 14 days to lodge an appeal with the East Caribbean Court of Appeal, based in St Lucia.

If they fail to lodge an appeal - which must be based on legal technicalities - there is an automatic review of the case by Antigua's Governor General, Sir James Carlisle, to consider any grounds for clemency.

If they do appeal, the matter would be heard either in June, or more likely November, by the St Lucia court. A final appeal is also possible, to the Privy Council in London.

The killers' disturbing lack of remorse or conscience for the brutal yacht murders - and the lack of motive for the shootings - have been a feature of the most sensational trial in Antiguan history.

The third man involved in the shootings, Donaldson Samuel, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the opening day of the trial, was sentenced to 15 years' hard labour.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed