Two men have been convicted of murdering a British couple as they celebrated the last day of their honeymoon on the holiday island of Antigua three years ago. The Director of Public Prosecutions in Antigua is considering asking for the death penalty.
The grieving parents of Ben and Catherine Mullany spoke of their relief yesterday after the verdict was handed down, but said they would never understand the "senseless nature" of the killings at the five-star Cocos Hotel and Resort in 2008.
More than 90 witnesses gave evidence during the two-month trial of Kaniel Martin, 23, and Avie Howell, 20. There were emotional scenes at Antigua's High Court as the verdicts were read out.
In a statement, the victims' families said: "There is no joy at today's verdict, just a sense of relief that after three years of waiting there is justice for our children. These two individuals can never again inflict the same anguish and devastation to any other family as they have to ours. We will never be able to comprehend the senseless nature of their deaths, the total disregard shown for human life and that no remorse has ever been shown."
Mr and Mrs Mullany had only been married for two weeks when they were each shot in the back of the head during a dawn raid on their hotel chalet. The couple had flown to Antigua for a two-week honeymoon. Their stay at Cocos, on the south-east coast of the island, had been a wedding present from friends and family.
Ms Mullany, a doctor, died instantly, but Mr Mullany, a student physiotherapist, was flown back home to South Wales in a desperate attempt to save his life. Despite the efforts of his wife's medical colleagues in Swansea, his life-support machine was switched off a week after the shooting. They were buried in the grounds of the same church in which they had married a little over a month previously.
The pair convicted of the killings refused to face questioning in court, and protested their innocence throughout their trial in the island's capital, St John's. But yesterday – three years to the day since they committed the murders – they were found guilty. Dressed in jeans and shirts, neither man showed any emotion as the jury delivered its verdicts after a wait of more than 10 hours.
Mr Mullany's parents, Cynlais and Marilyn, and their daughter-in-law's mother and father, Rachel and David Bowen, broke down in tears. "Ben and Cath will live in our hearts forever," they said. "They made our lives happy beyond measure and enriched every day that they were with us."
On the night of the murders, guests at the resort heard screams coming from Cottage 15 before the sound of gunshots filled the air.
Martin and Howell, who had been at Antigua's carnival celebrations hours before, targeted the cabin seemingly at random. It remains unclear which one of them shot the couple. The pair claimed to be nowhere near the scene of the crime, but mobile-phone records proved that Martin had been in the area around the time of the shooting.
They struck again 12 days later, killing Woneta Anderson, a shopkeeper, with a single shot to the head and making off with two mobile phones and a handful of top-up cards. A bandanna with Howell's DNA was found at the scene of this killing, as well as a bloodstained footprint.
The murder weapon was never recovered, but tests showed that the bullets used in all three killings came from the same gun. Gunshot residue was found on Martin's and Howell's clothing as well as in a holster found at Martin's home.
They will be sentenced on 26 September.
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