How a mobile phone broke killers' wall of silence

Avie Howell had inserted his SIM card into Ben Mullany's mobile phone 12 hours after the shooting

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The Independent US

The two men convicted of killing honeymooners Ben and Catherine Mullany refused to give evidence during their trial.

Their silence was described as "deafening" by one prosecutor – it became even more so as the wealth of evidence connecting them to the killings became apparent during the trial in the Antiguan capital of St John's. Avie Howell and Kaniel Martin protested their innocence throughout the two-month trial, but a jury handed down a guilty verdict yesterday after 10 hours' deliberation.

Following a plea from the country's Prime Minister, who was concerned about the impact the couple's murder would have on tourism, the prosecution received help from senior British detectives who were deployed to the Caribbean island and provided expert testimony and advice.

Crucial to the evidence against the pair were two mobile phones – one belonging to the victim and the other to the accused. During the trial, it was revealed that Howell had inserted his SIM card into Mr Mullany's phone 12 hours after the shooting.

The court also heard recordings stored on that phone – one in which Martin was heard talking to a female friend and another in which he is heard singing. This phone was later sold to a woman for about $200 (£120) by a man standing opposite Martin's home in Golden Grove. The phone of the accused also provided key evidence. The pair claimed to be nowhere near the hotel room, but phone records proved Martin had been in the area around the time of the shooting.

The accused might have escaped prosecution had they stopped there, but a little over a week later they struck again – this time at the Morning Glory Sunshine shop.

A bandanna left at the scene of the murder of shopkeeper Woneta Anderson contained traces of Howell's DNA. And ballistics experts, including UK forensics expert Dr Christopher Moynehan, told the court that tests found gunshot residue on clothing belonging to Howell and Martin.

The defence team for the pair had offered little more than a string of denials to the charges they faced. And contradictions in statements given by the pair weakened their case further.