Women charged over Antigua murders

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The Independent US

Two women have been charged in connection with the murders of British honeymooners Ben and Catherine Mullany in Antigua, police said today.

It is understood the charges relate to goods stolen from the couple.

The two women, who have not been named, appeared before the chief magistrates at St John's Magistrates' Court in Antigua charged with offences connected to the murders, Inspector Cornelius Charles said.

Mr and Mrs Mullany, both 31, from Pontardawe, south Wales, were shot in the head in their cottage at the Cocos Hotel and Resort in the south-west of the Caribbean island on the last day of their honeymoon on July 27.

The couple were buried yesterday at the church in Wales where they wed last month.

Inspector Charles said: "The investigation into the double murders of Benjamin and Catherine Mullany has been ongoing.

"This morning two females appeared before the Chief Magistrates at St John's Magistrates Court, having been arrested and charged with offences connected to the murders.

"At this stage we are not in a position to disclose any further information as the inquiry continues. However further information will be provided in due course when appropriate to do so."

Yesterday, the murdered honeymooners were buried in a private ceremony just one month after saying their wedding vows.

It is believed the ceremony took place at St John the Evangelist Church, in Cilybebyll, where they married on July 12.

The family said plans were being made for a funeral service to allow extended family members, friends and colleagues to pay their respects later this month.

They requested no flowers and said details of a memorial fund would be announced in due course.

Swansea coroner Philip Rogers released the bodies for burial as he opened and adjourned an inquest into the couple's deaths on Tuesday.

The coroner was told that Mrs Mullany, a 31-year-old doctor, died instantly in the shooting and Mr Mullany, a 31-year-old trainee physiotherapist, died a week later at Morriston Hospital, in Swansea.

At the brief hearing, the coroner heard that post-mortem examinations had been carried out and the "provisional" cause of death in both cases was a gun shot wound to the head.

The inquest was adjourned pending the outcome of inquiries by the police in Antigua.

More than 30 people have been questioned in connection with the shootings and a total of eight British officers have flown to Antigua to assist with the investigation.

The island's troubled 350-strong force, which is faced with rising violence, has no computers, no crime database and only one forensics-trained officer.

Assistant commissioner Ron Scott, who was head of the force's crime unit and one of four Canadian police officers brought in earlier this year to transform Antigua's force, resigned at the weekend citing personal reasons.

Antiguan justice minister Collin Derrick said the resignation would not affect continuing murder investigations.

Mr Derrick added that the island's government would propose the death penalty for crimes involving weapons, even if the victim was not killed, following the double murder.

The legislation, to be introduced at the next session of parliament, would set a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, Mr Derrick said.

Judges could also impose a sentence of life in prison.

Gun traffickers, who are blamed for a recent spike in violence in the tourism-dependent nation, could also be sentenced to death under the proposal, Mr Derrick said.