British man shot in Antigua flown home

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The Independent US

A British man critically injured in an apparent botched burglary in which his bride was murdered during their honeymoon in Antigua was being flown home last night.

The wife of Ben Mullany, Catherine, died in their holiday bungalow from a bullet to the head. It was the first murder of a tourist on the Caribbean island in more than a decade.

Mr Mullany's parents were at Antigua's Holberton Hospital, just outside the capital St John's, yesterday, having decided to transfer him home to the UK. An air ambulance staff member arrived at the hospital with the couple, who travelled to the island with the parents of Dr Catherine Mullany on Tuesday.

Mr Mullany, a physiotherapist from Ystalyfera, near Swansea, remains in intensive care after being shot in the neck and suffering a broken leg. Doctors in Antigua have expressed doubts about whether he can survive.

The police have been working on the theory that the attack, during which Dr Mullany was heard to cry out for help, was a botched robbery in the small hours of Sunday morning. The couple, both 31, had been due to fly home from their two-week honeymoon on Monday.

The country's Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer, has now put his weight behind increasingly frantic efforts to protect Antigua's tourist industry, which accounts for more than half of its economy. The attack "was a threat to our very survival," he said, in a public address as he pledged that the culprits would be caught. He also said he would ask for assistance from Scotland Yard. "Our very brand is based on people being safe. Accordingly, your government will not tolerate any action that will tarnish our country."

Mr Baldwin outlined sweeping new measures to fight the country's rising crime rate, but also pointed a finger of blame back at Britain. Both the UK and the US have strict rules to deport people who commit crimes, and between them the two countries have returned 280 criminals to the 108 square-mile island in the past decade.

"To any small island developing state, this figure is astronomically high. These criminal deportees, with skills developed and nurtured in the US and the UK, are impacting tremendously on our society."

As hospital officials were preparing last night for Mr Mullany to be flown back to the UK, it was reported that the couple had hired a local man they met on the beach last week to guide them as they drove round the paradise island.

The man had already once been questioned by detectives investigating the attack, but police denied local reports that he had been re-arrested following a new tip-off. The couple were befriended by the man, who was said to work on the beach, and paid him 150 East Caribbean (EC) dollars (£30) after haggling, according to a local source.

The Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association put up a £50,000 reward for information which leads to the capture of Dr Mullany's killer. An anonymous local businessman has put up a further £20,000 reward.

Earlier in the week, two security guards from the Cocos hotel were among six people questioned by Antiguan detectives.

The police force has cancelled all leave as officers investigate the attack.