Pair on trial for Antigua honeymoon murders

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The Independent US

Two men will go on trial today accused of murdering a British honeymoon couple in Antigua.

Newly-weds Ben and Catherine Mullany, both 31, were shot in an apparent botched robbery at their luxury resort little more than a fortnight after their wedding day.

Avie Howell, 20 and Kaniel Martin, 23, were later charged with their murders.

The Mullanys, from Swansea, south Wales, had been staying at the Cocos Hotel in the south west of the Caribbean island when at least one gunman burst into their hotel chalet as they slept.

Fellow tourists heard Mrs Mullany, a qualified paediatrician from the village of Pontardawe, begging for help in the early hours of July 27, 2008.

They reported screams, gunshots and a female voice pleading: "Help me please" at about 5am.

But when police arrived at the scene that Sunday morning, Mrs Mullany was dead - killed by a head wound after her assailant opened fire.

Her husband, a student physiotherapist from Ystalyfera, suffered massive brain haemorrhaging after a bullet entered his neck and travelled up through his skull.

He was rushed into intensive care at the local Holberton hospital, where doctors battled to save him.

The former South Yorkshire Police officer, who had also served in the British Army, was later brought back home to Wales on a life-support machine with a fractured skull and broken leg.

But medics at Morriston Hospital in Swansea were unable to save him and he was pronounced dead a week after the shooting.

He and his wife were buried in the grounds of the same church where they had married about a month earlier.

The couple had been due to return home from their two-week honeymoon just a day after they were attacked.

Howell and Martin were arrested after British detectives were sent to Antigua to assist local officers with their investigation.

At the time of the murders, local media reported a spree of shootings on the holiday island, with at least two other people attacked by masked gunmen.

However, as the first "visitor homicide" in more than 10 years, it sent shock waves through the local community.

Hotel owners tightened security at resorts across the island in the wake of the attack and security officers stood guard at the Cocos resort.

A popular getaway for newly-weds, the hillside hotel is located between two white sand beaches and is billed as an "exclusive romantic boutique hotel".

Its 26 cottages - which each feature a private balcony - are set in expansive gardens overlooking the sea and apparently offer "true paradise with views, beauty and nature in all directions".

Back in 2008, a room cost up to £330 a night.

Now, nearly three years after the killings and following a series of judicial setbacks, Howell, of Golden Grove, Antigua, and Martin, of Tindale Road, will stand trial just 10 miles away at the island's High Court.

As well as the Mullanys, the pair are also accused of murdering Woneta Anderson Walker.

The 43-year-old shopkeeper was shot dead in her home during what police believe was a violent robbery on August 8, 2008.

Howell and Martin will face another two counts of murder at a separate trial to be heard at a later date. These relate to the deaths of mechanic Tony Louisa, 46, on June 18, 2008 and student Rafique Kareem Harris, 24, on July 12, of the same year.

While Mr Louisa, a Syrian national, was shot in the head after confronting burglars at his home, Mr Harris was found dead about 50 metres away from his aunt's residence on the island. Police believe he was killed during a robbery.