Dorset

Isabella Hellman: Husband jailed for boat death

Lewis Bennett / Isabella Hellmann Image copyright PA/Broward Sheriff's Office/Facebook
Image caption Lewis Bennett and Isabella Hellmann had been married for three months when she vanished at sea

A man who killed his wife at sea three months after their wedding has been jailed for eight years.

Isabella Hellmann, 41, vanished when the couple's catamaran sank in the straits of Florida in May 2017.

Her husband, Lewis Bennett, 42, from Poole, Dorset, was found in a life raft with antique coins which he had previously reported as stolen.

Bennett pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter at a previous court hearing in Florida.

Investigators said there was evidence the catamaran had been "intentionally scuttled" on the couple's journey to Florida from Cuba.

Bennett told them he was woken by a loud noise in the early hours of 15 May and found the helm unmanned.

Image copyright US Coast Guard
Image caption There was evidence that the catamaran had been "intentionally scuttled", prosecutors said

He radioed for help from the life raft about 45 minutes later, prosecutors said.

Coastguards found him with silver coins worth nearly £30,000, which he had reported as being stolen from his employer the previous year.

Prosecutors previously alleged Bennett was motivated by inheriting money from Ms Hellmann and ending their "marital strife".

He had been due to stand trial in December charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.

Image copyright US Department of Justice
Image caption Coastguards found Bennett with silver coins in a life raft

The British-Australian dual national apologised to Ms Hellmann's family during the sentencing hearing in Miami.

He was ordered to pay $22,910 (about £18,000) in restitution to his and Ms Hellmann's daughter and will spend three years on supervised release after serving his prison term.

Bennett had already been serving a seven-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to transporting the coins.

Ms Bennett's body has never been found.

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