South West Wales

Mullany murder trial: British police 'fixed' evidence

A court in Antigua has been told that British detectives fixed the evidence to solve the murders of a honeymoon couple on the Caribbean island.

Kaniel Martin, 23, and Avie Howell, 20, deny shooting Ben and Catherine Mullany from Pontardawe at a chalet in 2008.

Barrister Marcus Foster claimed a team sent by the Metropolitan Police had bugged the defendants' cell.

He claimed they were "on a mission" to "look after their own" by solving the murder of a former police officer.

Mr Foster, representing Mr Martin, said the British detectives had been invited to the island by the Antiguan government to help investigate the killing of the Mullanys and other unsolved murders.

"They came on a mission... when one of their own was taken," said Mr Foster.

"Not just a countryman, but an ex-soldier and police officer.

"We had a situation of panic (after the killings) and then there was the great idea to call in the cavalry - the four horsemen.

"We opened Pandora's box by asking them to help.

'Wild animals and mere monkeys'

"Once they had made their arrests and captured publicity they had to stick with their decision. They did not want to look foolish."

The barrister claimed the British officers had also been disrespectful to Antigua by choosing a name for the police operation which had racist undertones.

Mr Foster said the name Project Savanna created an image of them dealing with with "wild animals and mere monkeys".

Mr Mullany, then a university student, and his wife, a doctor at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, died after being shot in the back of the head at Cocos hotel in July 2008 less than two week after their wedding.

Mrs Mullany died instantly, while Mr Mullany was flown back to Swansea where he died a week later.

The following August, Mr Martin and Mr Howell were charged with murdering Mr and Mrs Mullany before facing another charge of murdering local shopkeeper Woneta Anderson.

Mr Foster said that after British detectives failed to find any DNA evidence at the murder scene of Mr and Mrs Mullany, they became "desperate" and "illegally" bugged the pair's cell.

He added the covert recording was a prime example of the prosecution's "skeletal" case - saying it offered no real proof that Martin had killed the Mullanys.

Mr Foster added that despite his client later being found in possession of Mr Mullany's stolen mobile phone, and telecommunications evidence which placed him in the Cocos area, it was not enough to prove he was a murderer.

In an initial police interview Martin told officers he was nowhere near Cocos that morning, but later changed his story saying he had gone for a swim in the sea at around 05:00 local time.

Speaking about the change, Mr Foster told the jury: "The reason why he did so was because he was afraid.

"If you were arrested by people of a different race you would be scared."

The judge is due to begin his summing up on Tuesday morning before sending out the jury to consider their verdicts.

The trial continues.

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