Two women charged over Antigua murders

Posted on 9:56 AM by Sameer Shah

Two women were this afternoon charged in connection with the murders of newly-wed British honeymooners Ben and Catherine Mullany.

The pair were shot last month in what police believed to be a bungled burglary on the paradise island of Antigua.

It is understood the charges relate to goods stolen from the couple, who had been due to return back to the U.K. the next day.

Ben and Catherine Mullany were shot in the head in a suspected bungled robbery at the Cocos Hotel last month.

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.

It is understood they relate to items stolen from the couple's room.

More than 30 people have been questioned in connection with the shootings but Antiguan police had last week said there were no firm suspects. Eight British officers flew to the island to assist in the investigation.

The newlyweds, both 31 and from Pontardawe in the Swansea Valley, south Wales, were on the last day of their Caribbean holiday on July 27.

Mrs Mullany, a doctor, died instantly in the attack. Her husband, a trainee physiotherapist, was flown back to Britain where he died from his injuries at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, on Aug 3.

They were buried in the church they were married yesterday and the couple's families said in a joint statement that a memorial service would be held later for extended family members, friends and colleagues.

Inquests into the deaths were opened and adjourned in Swansea on Tuesday.

Catherine, 31, died shortly after the horrific attack while her new husband was flown home to Britain in a desperate bid to save his life.

But tragically, he could not be saved.

Anitgua Police today confirmed that the two women, who had not been named, appeared before the chief magistrates at St John's Magistrates' Court in Antigua charged with offences connected to the murders.

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.

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.

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.

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