South West Wales

Ben and Catherine Mullany Antigua murder trial date set

Ben and Catherine Mullany
Image caption Ben and Catherine Mullany were shot in their hotel chalet two weeks after their wedding

The trial of two men accused of the murder of a honeymoon couple in Antigua will begin next week, police in south Wales have confirmed.

Avie Howell and Kaniel Martin will appear in the Caribbean island's High Court to answer charges of killing newlyweds Ben and Catherine Mullany.

The couple's families will travel to attend the trial starting on 1 June.

They have asked for privacy during the case, which is expected to last two months.

It is nearly three years since qualified doctor Mrs Mullany and her student physiotherapist husband Ben, both from Pontardawe near Swansea, were shot in their hotel chalet at Antigua's five-star Cocos Hotel on 27 July 2008.

It happened just over a fortnight after the couple had married.

Mrs Mullany died instantly, while her husband, who was studying physiotherapy at the University of the West England in Bristol, was placed on a life-support machine.

He was flown back to Morriston Hospital in Swansea but died a week later.

The couple were buried in the grounds of the church they had married in a little over a month previously.

"The Ben and Catherine Mullany murder trial is due to commence in Antigua on 1st June 2011," said a South Wales Police statement.

"South Wales Police has supported the investigation into their deaths and trained family liaison officers have continued to support the families and keep them updated on events both in the UK and Antigua.

"Members of Ben and Catherine's family will travel to Antigua for the trial.

"The media are asked to adhere to the families' wishes and continue to respect their privacy at what will be a very difficult time for them.

"A statement from the families will be released at the conclusion of the trial."

Avie Howell and Kaniel Martin were charged with killing the newlyweds, as well as three other murders.

They are also accused of killing mechanic Tony Louisa, 43, student Rafique Kareem Harris, 24, and Woneta Anderson Walker, a 43-year-old shopkeeper.

The trial had been scheduled to commence this week but the legal team representing the two defendants wanted their clients to face the five murder charges separately.

'Sooner rather than later'

The cases of Mr and Mrs Mullany as well as Mrs Walker will start on 1 June, while the cases concerning Mr Harris and Mr Louisa will begin at a later date.

The uncertainty has meant Mr and Mrs Mullany's families have been unable to book flights or accommodation to Antigua in order to sit in on the trial.

Ben's uncle Michael Meredith, 58, said previously: "We have been told many times a trial is going ahead, only for things to change.

"In the families' eyes we have been waiting too long for matters to be resolved.

"All we can do is wait, and hope the case will proceed sooner rather than later."

Defence lawyer Maureen Payne-Hyman had told a judge she wanted all four murder cases tried separately because she is scheduled to leave the jurisdiction by mid-July - therefore unavailable for the entirety of a joint trial, which is expected to last at least two months.

The request irked the prosecution, who said that trying all murder counts separately would cause more delays.

More on this story