Ben and Catherine Mullany Antigua murder trial starts

image captionBen and Catherine Mullany were shot in an Antigua hotel just over two weeks after their wedding

The trial has started of two men accused of murdering a British couple on their honeymoon in Antigua three years ago.

Ben and Catherine Mullany, both 31, were shot in an apparent botched robbery at their luxury resort, just over a fortnight after their wedding.

Avie Howell, 20, and Kaniel Martin, 23, were later charged with their murders.

The Mullanys, from Pontardawe, near Swansea, had been staying at the £330-a-night five-star Cocos Hotel.

Mr Howell, wearing a white checked shirt and jeans, and Mr Martin, dressed in jeans and a purple shirt, sat next to each other in the open dock, flanked by two security officers.

Both listened closely as the jury of eight men and four women was sworn in.

Prosecutor Anthony Armstrong is opening the case before Judge Mr Justice Richard Floyd.

The trial is expected to last two months, at Antigua's High Court in its capital St John's.

The Mullanys were shot in their hotel chalet on 27 July, 2008.

Mrs Mullany, a doctor, died instantly and her husband, who was a physiotherapy student at the University of the West England in Bristol, was placed on a life-support machine.

Mr Mullany was flown back to Morriston Hospital in Swansea but died a week later.

Hit by delays

The couple were buried at the church where they had married a little over a month earlier.

The accused pair were charged with murdering the newlyweds, as well as with three other killings.

Those were the murders of mechanic Tony Louisa, 43, student Rafique Kareem Harris, 24, and shopkeeper Woneta Anderson Walker, 43.

The cases of Mr and Mrs Mullany as well as Mrs Walker started on Wednesday, while those of Mr Harris and Mr Louisa will begin at a later date.

The trial had been due to start earlier this month but the defendants' legal team had wanted their clients to face the five murder charges separately.

The Mullanys' families said they had previously been told many times the trial was set to take place, only for it to be hit by delays.

Since their deaths, friends and family of the Mullanys have worked to preserve their memory by setting up a charity.

The Mullany Fund offers financial assistance to those studying medicine as well as physiotherapy.

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