South West Wales

Newlyweds were unlawfully killed in Antigua - inquest

Ben and Catherine Mullany
Image caption Ben and Catherine Mullany were both shot in the head by their killers, the inquest was told

A couple shot dead on honeymoon in Antigua were forced to kneel beside their beds by their killers, an inquest in Swansea has heard.

Ben and Catherine Mullany, both 31 and from Pontardawe in the Swansea Valley, were murdered during a robbery on 27 July, 2008.

Kaniel Martin, 23, and Avie Howell, 20, were convicted of the murders in July and could face the death penalty.

Coroner Philip Rogers recorded verdicts of unlawful killing.

The inquest heard the honeymoon couple were killed at their holiday chalet on the island on the last night of their holiday.

Neighbouring holidaymakers at the Cocos Hotel heard screams and gunfire at around 5am local time.

South Wales Police Pc Emma Warner told the hearing: "They were innocent victims.

"Both were forced to kneel to the side of the bed and were shot in the back of the head.

"Three spent cartridges were found on the floor of their chalet and there was damage to the bathroom door where it had been kicked in.

Small amount of cash

Image caption Kaniel Martin and Avie Howell will be sentenced next week

"The safe was open and property had been taken including a quantity of cash, a digital camera and two mobile phones."

Catherine Mullany, a doctor working towards becoming a GP, died at the scene.

Her husband Ben, a student physiotherapist and former soldier and policeman, died a week later after he was flown back to Swansea.

The safe in the couple's chalet had been forced open and a small amount of cash taken, the inquest heard.

'Tragic and sad event'

Martin and Howell were charged with the murders in August 2008 and convicted after a trial in Antigua in July. They are due to be sentenced next week.

The director of public prosecutions on the Caribbean island has said he is considering asking for the death penalty.

Home Office pathologist Dr Rick James told the inquest the Mullanys had died after being shot to the back of the head.

Coroner Mr Rogers described the double shooting a "tragic and sad event."

He said: "They were both shot at the same time in the course of the robbery at their chalet.

"Ben and Catherine's parents have been through a great deal in the past three years waiting for the killers to be brought to justice.

"There is only one verdict - that they were unlawfully killed."

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