A British honorary consul in Jamaica was found murdered outside his home in Montego Bay last night. John Terry, 65, who has lived on the island since 1967, had a cord and a piece of clothing tied round his neck.
Mr Terry was last seen on Tuesday night after he drove home. Police said the New Zealand-born diplomat and magistrate appeared to have been badly beaten and strangled. A note was left on his bed but detectives declined to disclose the details.
The brutal nature of the killing will be a further blow to Jamaica's tourism industry, which has struggled for several years to dispel concerns about the country's high crime rate. A key part of Mr Terry's role as honorary consul to the British High Commission in the capital, Kingston, was to offer advice and help to Britons who had fallen victim to attackers.
In a statement, the Foreign Office said: "We can confirm the death of the British honorary consul in Montego Bay. Jamaican police are investigating the circumstances of his death and we're in close touch with them."
Mr Terry had lived for at least a decade in the Mount Carey area of Montego Bay, a well-heeled neighbourhood which has been rocked in recent years by a spree of gangland-style murders. There were more than 236 murders in the area in 2007 and 2008 as rival drug gangs fought out a turf war.
Detectives said they were still seeking a motive for the killing of the British diplomat, who had worked in the tourism sector for more than 30 years. At the time of his death Mr Terry was working as the maintenance manager of the Half Moon Hotel, a luxury resort in Montego Bay.
Local media reported that the body of Mr Terry, who was made an MBE in 1992, was found outside his house by neighbours on Wednesday afternoon.
Detective Superintendent Michael Garrick, of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, said there had been no forced entry to the home and blood stains close to the body showed Mr Terry had suffered a savage beating. He added that the note left on the bed might be linked to the killing but said investigations were still continuing.
The death of a prominent foreign national will damage attempts by the Jamaican authorities to distance the country's lucrative tourism industry, which attracts about 200,000 Britons a year, from its sky-high murder rate. A total of 1,547 homicides on the island in 2007 made it the world's most murderous country.
The vast majority of the killings – which take place at a rate of one every six hours – occur in the poor neighbourhoods of Kingston and the country's main cities, where drug gangs fight for control of cocaine-trafficking networks.
The Caribbean as a whole has been struggling with social decline and burgeoning crime rates.
Antigua, one of the most popular destinations in the region for Britons, suffered a rash of cancellations last year when British doctors Ben and Catherine Mullany were murdered in their hotel cottage on the last day of their honeymoon.Reuse content