Antigua honeymoon murder: six held by police

Posted on 11:41 PM by Sameer Shah

Six people have been detained by police in Antigua over the honeymoon murder of a doctor and the shooting of her new husband, a journalist on the Carribbean island has said.

Catherine Mullany was shot in the head by a gunman who entered the couple's cabin at the luxury Cocos Hotel while they were asleep at 5am on Sunday morning.

Her husband Benjamin Mullany, a physiotherapist, is critically ill in hospital after being shot in the neck.

Andy Liburd, news editor of the Antigua Sun, said that at least six people have been held and questioned in connection with the attack.

However, nobody has yet been arrested for the crime.

He said: "As far as I know there are six people in custody, but I don't think they will have been placed under arrest yet. Here in Antigua, people can be in custody for two days before police either arrest or release them.

"The police will want to run the investigation to its fullest course and make sure all the pieces are in place before they make arrests."

Just hours before she was shot dead Mrs Mullany had reportedly sent a text to a friend calling Antigua "beautiful and lush like the Garden of Eden."

The friend said that the hospital doctor had told her she had "never been happier" at her wedding on July 12.

She added: "I can't talk much, I'm so choked up. Cath had only just texted me to say she was having the best time of her life, and joked about how grown-up she felt being married. I can't believe she's gone."

Police on the island, which is a popular destination for beach weddings and romantic breaks but has a sharply rising crime rate, said they were treating the murder as a "robbery gone bad".

Officers believe the couple were woken by burglars battering down their door, and were then shot during a confrontation in their bedroom.

The couple, who are both from the Swansea area of south Wales, were on the last day of their honeymoon. They were due to return home on July 28.

In a joint statement, the couple's two families said they were "devastated" and "struggling to comprehend" what had happened.

Dr Mullany's maternal uncle, Gareth Jones, said: "To be honest, we are all stunned. This is so tragic. I don't know the full details but when I spoke with my sister this morning she was very, very shaken.

"David and my sister only found out about it this morning. They are still surrounded by wedding photographs at the moment and the tragedy is my niece had not even seen them yet. Now she will never see the photographs of her own wedding.

"I am not quite sure of the circumstances but it seems that they have been shot in a robbery. Ben was shot in the neck and apparently his life is in the balance. My niece was killed outright."

Dr Mullany worked in the paediatric unit at the Singleton Hospital in Swansea.

Her colleague Mike Cosgrove, the hospital's paediatric consultant and clinical director, said: "We were expecting Catherine back from her honeymoon today and instead we heard this terrible news.

"We are all completely devastated. She was an excellent doctor and a lovely person, and an extremely popular member of staff.

"She had so looked forward to her wedding; she had talked about it for months. Nobody can believe what has happened."

Paul Williams, Chief Executive of the NHS Trust, described Dr Mullany as "a popular, talented and caring young doctor with a wonderful career ahead of her".

Dr Mullany, who graduated from Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School in London in 2002, joined the Swansea NHS Trust in August 2003 and was training to be a GP.

She and her husband had bought a terraced house together in Rhos, half a mile from Dr Mullany's family home in Pontardawe.

A neighbour said: "Everyone here has nothing but good words to say about them. We've only just heard about it and are very upset."

The couple, who are both 31, were married at the 12th Century St John the Evangelist Church in Cilybebyll and held their reception in a marquee on Dr Mullany's family farm in Pontardawe.

Her father David Bowen, known as Dai, and mother Rachel run a farm and a holiday cottage business.

Mr Mullany's parents Marilyn and Cynlais, who live in nearby Ystylafera, are understood to be making arrangements to fly to Antigua to be at their son's bedside in an intensive care unit at the Holberton Hospital.

The statement from the two families said: "We are deeply shocked and devastated at the recent events in Antigua and are struggling to comprehend what has happened to Ben and Catherine.

"We appreciate the support of our family and friends and would ask the media to respect our privacy at this difficult time."

The couple arrived in the Caribbean on July 14. The Cocos Hotel, which charges up to £330 per night in high season for its 23 chalets, is described as "perfect for honeymoon couples" on travel websites.

Each of its chalets has an outdoor shower, balcony with views of the sea and dazzling white beaches and a hammock.

The shooting is the tenth murder on the holiday island this year, and follows two attacks by masked gunmen in recent days. Last year a record 19 people were murdered on the island.

Harold Lovell, Antigua's tourism minister, tried to assure holidaymakers that the island was still safe, saying: "We pride ourselves that Antigua is a safe and stable destination and this has come as a great shock to us.

"We want to do anything we can to allay fears and solve this heinous crime and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice."

He said police investigators would look at whether there were any lapses in security at the hotel, which employs guards.

He said other hotel guests had been left traumatised by the murder and some had requested to be relocated.

"The police are still obviously trying to work out the motive, but they think robbery will be the motive," he said. "It is something that is being fully investigated by the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda. They will leave no stone unturned."

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