Honeymoon shooting victim dies

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The Independent US

Newlywed Ben Mullany who was shot with his wife on their honeymoon in Antigua has died, the hospital treating him said today.

Catherine Mullany died instantly in the shooting, suspected to be a bungled robbery at their hotel on the Carribean island last Sunday.

Mr Mullany was flown home and arrived at Morriston Hospital, in Swansea, south Wales, in the early hours of yesterday.

He had a fractured skull and a bullet lodged in the back of his head following the attack.

A hospital spokeswoman said today: "Following brain stem testing that was carried out earlier today, Ben Mullany has now passed away.

"The thoughts of all the staff who were involved in Ben's care are with his family at this very sad time.

"We would now ask the media to respect his family's wishes, and allow them privacy to grieve for Ben."

Mr Mullany, a 31-year-old physiotherapist, was treated in the same intensive care unit where his wife Catherine did part of her training as a doctor.

Doctors had to wait until his condition stabilised following the 24-hour journey home from Antigua before carrying out tests to discover if he was brain dead.

Dr Pushpiner Mangat, the hospital's clinical director for critical care, yesterday praised the "outstanding work" of the clinical team who were responsible for Mr Mullany during his transfer from the island.

Mrs Mullany, from Pontardawe, and Mr Mullany, from the village of Ystalyfera, set off on their two-week honeymoon after their wedding on July 12.

The body of Mrs Mullany was being flown back to the UK on a separate flight, accompanied by her parents.

Prayers for the couple were said this morning at churches and chapels throughout their home town of Pontardawe, in the Swansea Valley - including St John the Evangelist Church where they married three weeks ago.

The Reverend Martyn Perry, who married the couple, said prayers were said for them at this morning's service in the church where they wed.

Rev Perry said: "We said prayers for them both at services this morning, at the little country church where they married and at our other church in Alltwen."

The Reverend Gareth Morgan Jones led special services for the couple in both Alltwen Chapel and Tabernacle Chapel, in Pontardawe.

The Minister said the services were attended by mourners including teachers who taught Mrs Mullany as a school child, the mother of one of her closest friends and a family member.

"I paid a eulogy to Catherine, who I have known since she was a young girl in a Welsh school," he said.

"I paid tribute to her personality, her good life and, of course, such a talented person and respected by all who knew her."

He said they also thought of Mr Mullany and had a minute's silence for the pair.

"We also sang a hymn which Catherine would have sang at Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera (her school) which talks about turning night into day," the Minister said.

The couple were on the last day of their honeymoon at the Cocos Hotel when they were attacked in their room.

A team of Scotland Yard detectives visited the murder scene for the first time yesterday after flying out to the island to help investigate the shooting following a desperate plea for help from Antigua's overwhelmed police force.

The shooting may be linked to another murder on the island less than two months ago, Antigua's police chief said.

Police commissioner Gary Nelson said the case is similar to another murder which happened in a house in St John's.

He said police had questioned 31 people and taken 10 statements. Four people remain in custody and around a dozen officers are working on the case.

Later, a police source said investigators believed they were hunting for more than one suspect.

The island's 350-strong police force is faced with a rise in crime which has "nearly overwhelmed" the nation, according to its prime minister Baldwin Spencer. He said it has no computers, no crime database and an emergency call system which "sometimes doesn't work".

A statement released by South Wales Police said: "Following the death of Ben Mullany at Morriston Hospital earlier today, South Wales Police is continuing to support the families at this most difficult time.

"Our thoughts are with the families of Catherine and Ben Mullany and we would once again ask the media to respect the family's wishes to be left alone to grieve in peace.

"South Wales Police has appointed trained family liaison officers to support both families and the force has provided support to the ongoing investigation in Antigua."