Antigua says it’s safe despite visitor’s murder

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, July 30, 2008 – Antigua’s Tourism Minister Harold Lovell has sought to reassure tourists that the island is safe, even as police continue their investigations into an attack that left a British doctor dead and her husband critically injured.

Newlyweds, Benjamin and Catherine Mullany, both 31, of South Wales, were allegedly shot in the head around 5 am on Sunday while in their cottage at the Cocos Hotel in the west of Antigua. They were on the last day of their two-week honeymoon.

Mrs Mullany died on the spot, but her husband, who suffered a fractured skull, broken neck, spinal damage and a broken leg, remains in critical condition at the Holberton Hospital

Police have held a number of people for questioning, but no one has yet been charged.

Amidst concern about crime in the island, Tourism Minister Lovell has insisted that there is no need to fear.

“This isolated incident has deeply shocked our community and we wish to reassure visitors that Antigua and Barbuda is a safe destination. I have full confidence in the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda who are conducting an extensive investigation,” he said.

The incident has resulted in the 10th homicide here for the year, but the first visitor homicide in 10 years.

Family members of the couple have arrived in Antigua and Police Commissioner Gary Nelson, who met the relatives along with Justice Minister Collin Derrick, said he was briefed them on the incident and sought to console them.

Meantime, reports are that Mr Mullany’s injuries are so severe that he is now brain dead.

Dr Fidel Fernandez, a general surgeon at Holberton Hospital, is quoted in the Daily Mail Online as saying that “he is on a ventilator which supports his organs and without that he would die”.

“It is very, very sad. The bullet is in the neck. It had entered the neck, travelled up towards the brain and then back down again. There had been some haemorrhaging and the blood flow to the brain has been stopped,” he said.

Mr Mullany has been in a coma since the attack.