Two sentenced to hang for yacht killings

BOB GRAHAM

Antigua

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
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders