British tourist was killed for his dinghy

Confusion surrounds Malcolm Robertson's killing by three Burmese men as his wife slept on their yacht in the Andaman Sea

A British man was murdered by pirates aboard his yacht off southern Thailand while his wife was locked in a cabin. The body of Malcolm Robertson, 64, was thrown overboard near Koh Dong, an island about 45 miles west of the Satun province near the border with Malaysia, on Monday evening. Reports suggested Mr Robertson was beaten to death with a hammer or had his throat slit with a knife.

Three Burmese men have been arrested on suspicion of murder. Apparently, Mr Robertson had tried to stop them as they climbed on to his yacht, named Mr Bean, to steal a dinghy. Initial reports suggest that Mr Robertson's wife Linda, known as Lindy, was locked in a cabin as the three men fought her husband. When she emerged, she found blood on the deck but no sign of her husband, waved down a passing vessel and called police.

It remains unclear how Mrs Robertson sustained the minor injuries for which she is now being treated in hospital, although a scuffle with the fishermen is the likeliest explanation. She is reported to have said: "They wanted the dinghy and started hitting Malc about the head."

Yesterday Mrs Robertson's brother, John Clee, said: "It was such a stupid, pathetic thing, because they were just trying to pinch a few credit cards and computer things."

He said his sister feared she would be killed too but the three men fled the vessel before being caught by police.

He added: "She's got swollen arms and legs because she was tied up for eight to 10 hours in the cabin. She didn't know what was happening to Malcolm, she was kept locked up."

Mr Clee said the robbers brought his sister up to the deck at times when they needed her help with sailing the yacht.

Police found the three men afloat in the southern Andaman Sea in a dinghy that had been attached to the Robertsons' yacht. A police spokes-man said they had confessed to the murder and were migrant workers. It is possible they belong to the Rohingya people, an ethnic Muslim group persecuted by the Burmese junta.

Television cameras caught local people throwing punches at the suspects when they were brought on to land by police, who dragged them away before further trouble erupted. Mr and Mrs Robertson, from St Leonards in East Sussex, are thought to have been sailing from Phuket in Thailand, where their yacht was berthed, to the Malaysian duty-free island of Langkawi. A spokesman for the Foreign Office said yesterday: "We can confirm two British nationals were attacked off Satun. Our consular team in Bangkok is in touch with next of kin. One of the British nationals has been reported missing and the other is in hospital. We are urgently pursuing this case."

The Royal Thai Navy and police are thought to have called off the search for Mr Robertson's body last night at 10pm local time. Police Colonel Virat Ohn-song said: "We believe from our interview with his wife that Mr Robertson was dead before he was thrown into the water. This is bad. Very bad."

Mr and Mrs Robertson set off on a round-the-world voyage from Eastbourne marina in June 1998. They are thought to have sailed Mr Bean around the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and much of the South Pacific.

Reports suggested that they were planning to head back to Eastbourne this year, and had advertised on a blog for fellow yachties to join them on a convoy to the Red Sea. The last update is from September 2007. It is headed: "Still the excitement is there after nine years." Their relatives are understood to be flying to Thailand.

The waters in which the couple were sailing do not have a reputation for being dangerous and are usually extremely busy with holiday yachts.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant

£14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an experie...

Recruitment Genius: Canteen Manager Required

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's Frozen...

Recruitment Genius: Canteen Assistants Required

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's Frozen...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities & Operational Administrator

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting position has risen ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum