Antigua honeymoon killers jailed for life


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The Independent US

Two men who murdered a British honeymoon couple avoided the death penalty today.

Kaniel Martin and Avie Howell, who killed Ben and Catherine Mullany, both 31, in 2008, were each given three consecutive life sentences at Antigua's High Court.

The Mullanys, from Rhos, near Pontardawe, south Wales, were both shot in the head.

Four weeks after witnessing their marriage, their parents were attending their funerals.

Martin, 23, and Howell, 22, were convicted of their murders, and the killing of a local shopkeeper in almost identical circumstances, in July.

The pair had faced the possibility of the death penalty for the killings, which tarnished the island's reputation.

However, today Judge Richard Floyd instead sentenced the pair to life imprisonment for all three killings.

University of the West of England (UWE) physiotherapy student Mr Mullany and his doctor wife went on honeymoon to Antigua two days after their marriage in July 2008. The wedding was at St John the Evangelist Church in the tiny village of Cilybebyll - less than a mile from Mrs Mullany's parents' home.

Their two-week break on the isle had been a gift from friends and relatives.

On what was supposed to be their last full day in Antigua, Martin and Howell burst into the couple's chalet at Cocos hotel at 5am.

After forcing the 31-year-olds to kneel in front of the bed at gunpoint, the pair shot them in the back of the head before stealing an inexpensive mobile phone, a cheap digital camera and a small quantity of cash.

Morriston Hospital doctor Mrs Mullany died instantly, while her husband was flown back to Wales on a life support machine via a specialist air ambulance.

But despite the best efforts of his wife's medical colleagues, he died a week after the shooting.

The pair went on to strike again less than a fortnight later - gunning down local shopkeeper Woneta Anderson, 43, and making off with a stash of top-up phone cards.

Howell and Martin showed no remorse for their crimes during their trial, with both refusing to give evidence, despite claiming their innocence.

Martin had claimed he had never been anywhere near the Mullany's hotel around the time of the killings, but telecommunications evidence later placed him in the Jolly Harbour area at around 5am. He then backtracked and said he had gone for a early morning swim in the sea to try to sober up after being out at Antigua's annual carnival the night before.

It was also later discovered that the father-of-one, known by the street name of Sample Dan, had been in possession of Mr Mullany's stolen Nokia phone - when a recording of Martin's voice was found on the device.

Although the murder weapon was never recovered, spent cartridge shells were found at the scene of the crime and both Martin and Howell were found with gunshot residue on their clothing. During police interviews, both men had claimed they had never owned or fired a gun.

And a bandana with Howell's DNA was later found at Mrs Anderson's Morning Glory Sunshine shop shortly after she had been shot in the head.

Her blood-stained body was discovered by her horrified husband.