South West Wales

Antigua Mullanys murder: no key for security gate

Ben and Catherine Mullany
Image caption Ben and Catherine Mullany were on the last day of their Caribbean honeymoon when they were shot

A Metropolitan Police officer has told the trial of two men accused of murdering a honeymoon couple that a gate behind their cottage could be opened without a key.

Catherine and Ben Mullany, both 31, from Pontardawe, Swansea, were attacked at a cottage in the Cocos Hotel and Resort in Antigua in July 2008.

Alan Tribe told Antigua's High Court anyone could unlock the security gate.

Avie Howell, 20, and Kaniel Martin, 23, deny the murders. The trial continues.

The pair also deny killing local shopkeeper Woneta Anderson, 43.

Mr and Mrs Mullany were attacked on the last day of their honeymoon on the Caribbean island in 2008.

Mrs Mullany, a doctor, died at the scene, while her husband, a physiotherapy student, was flown back to south Wales where he died in hospital a week later.

On Tuesday Mr Tribe, who is head of the evidence recovery unit for the Metropolitan Police, described arriving at the hotel to investigate on 2 August 2008.

He told the court that his team worked alongside members of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda, to gather evidence from the murder scene.

He said he made a detailed assessment and described the location of the rear gate of the resort as being close to the cottage where the couple were staying.

He said this gate had two locks and the fencing surrounding it was a wire mesh.

Mr Tribe realised that by reaching through the fence, both locks could be opened without a key, even if the gate was locked from the outer side.

Intensive search

It follows evidence given earlier in the trial by resort security guard Brinsley Barrie who said the gate was not padlocked and could be opened with a simple "hard push."

He said it was his job to close the gate at night but it did not lock properly.

Mr Barrie agreed a guest locked out late at night could "easily" have entered the resort, and when asked if someone could have climbed over the barrier, he replied "most probably".

On Tuesday, Mr Tribe also pointed out that the steps that led from the gate led directly to the veranda of the cottage which was surrounded by much foliage.

He said the foliage concealed numerous obstacles that would present a significant hazard if one was to travel that area in the dark.

During their intensive search of the crime scene, the team took more pieces of evidence including several swabs for DNA testing and numerous photographs.

Mr Tribe told the court that on 13 August, he and other officers went to the home of accused Avie Howell where he and other members of his family were present.

Several items were removed, including a black and silver Nokia cell phone. This was one of several visits the police made to the house.

Mr Tribe returned to Antigua in November 2008 with his colleagues to conduct crime scene analysis at the Morning Glory Sunshine Shop where Wonetta Anderson was murdered.

They also carried out analysis at a home in Union Estate where a robbery earlier that year had resulted in the theft of a Glock pistol. At both scenes, evidence was removed and photographs taken.

All the evidence seized on the several searches was sealed by Mr Tribe and sent to Main House at the Metropolitan Police Building for analysis.

The trial continues.

More on this story