South West Wales

Mullany murder trial judge: Ignore public pressure

Ben and Catherine Mullany
Image caption Ben and Catherine Mullany were shot on honeymoon at their hotel chalet on Antigua in 2008

A judge has told a jury to ignore public pressure when reaching verdicts on two men accused of murdering a couple on their Caribbean honeymoon.

Kaniel Martin, 23, and Avie Howell, 20, deny killing Ben and Catherine Mullany from Swansea in Antigua in 2008.

Mr Justice Richard Floyd told the jury at the island's high court they should reach their verdict on the "evidence alone."

The couple were shot in their resort cottage two weeks after they married.

Mr Martin and Mr Howell also stand accused of killing a local shopkeeper.

During their two-month trial, the jury has heard that all victims died from a single bullet to the head and their murders were committed in the early hours of the morning.

During his summing up on Tuesday the judge said Mr Martin and Mr Howell could be convicted on the basis of "joint enterprise", even if one played a "lesser part" than the other.

Justice Floyd said the jury must not speculate about what evidence was not presented to the court - nor base their decision on "public pressure, prejudice, sympathy or fear".

A guilty verdict, he said, must be reached on the basis of "beyond reasonable doubt".

If they were only "probably" sure the men had committed the offences, then the defendants should be found not guilty, the judge said.

He also said there were different types of evidence - circumstantial and direct.

"In making your decision, both types count," he added.

"Circumstantial evidence can be powerful but you must consider it carefully."

University of the West of England student Mr Mullany and his wife, a doctor working at Morriston Hospital, died after being shot in the back of the head at the Cocos resort on 27 July 2008.

Mrs Mullany died almost instantly and Mr Mullany a week later after he was flown back to Swansea on a life support machine.

The following month Mr Martin and Mr Howell were charged with their murders and that of 43-year-old shopkeeper Woneta Anderson.

Justice Floyd said although the accused had been jointly charged with three murders, a verdict for each individual on each count must be made.

"Although each person is charged together, each is entitled to be tried separately," he added.

The court was adjourned on Tuesday and will reconvene on Wednesday when the judge will continue summing up before sending the jury out to consider its verdicts.

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