Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Duo's killer may face death penalty

Ben and Catherine Mullany were murdered on their honeymoon in Antigua

The sentencing of two men who murdered a British couple on their honeymoon has taken a dramatic twist after a court heard one of them will no longer be automatically exempt from the death penalty.

Newlyweds Ben and Catherine Mullany, from Rhos, near Pontardawe, were both shot in the head while on the holiday island of Antigua in 2008. Four weeks after witnessing their marriage, their parents were attending their funerals.

Kaniel Martin, 23, and Avie Howell, 22, were convicted of their murders, and the killing of a local shopkeeper in almost identical circumstances, last July.

Following the completion of their two-month trial, prosecutors said they would reserve judgment on seeking the death penalty.

However, Howell looked to have dodged the hangman's noose as it was thought he was 17 at the time of the murders, which would have resulted in him getting a more lenient sentence.

But Antigua's High Court has heard that Howell's date of birth is not September 1990, as the trial previously heard, but September 1989.

The evidence apparently came to light after the Director of Public Prosecutions had sought a copy of Howell's birth certificate.

Despite the revelation, both Martin and Howell's legal team urged Judge Richard Floyd to treat their clients leniently, insisting they were capable of reform.

In mitigation, barristers Michael Archibald and Maureen Payne Hyman both claimed Martin and Howell had shown remorse for their crimes, despite refusing to testify at their trial. They also stressed the deceased in all three murders had been shot once and it was still unclear who pulled the trigger.

Mr Floyd reiterated his previous comments he would need to consider "matters fully" and did not give a date as to when sentencing would finally proceed.