Neighbours of a British man who died defending his wife when attackers boarded their boat in the Caribbean during a dream holiday have spoken of their deep shock and sadness.
Police on the island of St Lucia said they were holding two people while its investigations were continuing after 62-year-old Roger Pratt from Warwickshire died on Friday, just hours before he and wife, Margaret, were seemingly prevented from leaving port by local red tape.
Mrs Pratt, a management consultant, who had also worked for various NHS trusts, is being treated in hospital after the attack.
The couple had been part-way through a round-the-world holiday of a lifetime when the incident happened.
A St Lucian police spokesman said Mr Pratt died trying to defend his wife from attackers, but said there was no evidence he had been shot.
He said: “Nobody has been arrested yet but there are some guys in custody.
“The investigators are very busy looking at what happened.”
In the up-market hamlet of Moreton Paddox near Stratford-on-Avon where the couple had lived, neighbours spoke of their horror at what had happened.
Lavinia O’Shaughnessy, who has known the couple 15 years, said: “I just feel really upset because for something like that to happen to people who are so very nice is terrible.”
She added: “They were going on a journey on their boat, sailing around the world. Margaret was very friendly – she’d pick me up at the end of the road to give me a lift into town if she saw me, she was that sort of person.”
She added that the couple, who were co-directors of their own management firm, had recently moved back to Norfolk where they were originally from, buying a small house there and working on their yacht.
Mrs Pratt had celebrated her 60th birthday in St Lucia just a few days before they were apparently set upon by attackers, while moored off the Vieux Fort coast on the southern tip of the island. The couple had left Lowestoft in June, navigating the English coastline before heading to the Algarve and on to the Caribbean.
Writing on her LinkedIn profile before she left, Mrs Pratt said: “Off travelling! The plan is to be in the Caribbean for my 60th birthday in January 2014... all a bit of a leap into the unknown.”
She had also kept a blog and wrote just hours before the attack how local customs officials had delayed their attempts to leave before the weekend.
Another couple who had known Mr and Mrs Pratt for 25 years since moving to the hamlet, said they had ensured their yacht – called The Magnetic Attraction – had a steel hull because of concerns over discarded shipping containers floating in the sea which if hit can hole wooden boats.
A neighbour, who declined to give his name, said the couple had no children, but that Mrs Pratt had a sister.
He added Mr Pratt had once worked for Land Rover but not for some years and had always had a passion for sailing as long as he had known him.
The Rev John Parker, vicar of the Midfosse parishes which includes Moreton Paddox, said prayers for the couple had been said at Sunday services.
St Lucian tourism minister Lorne Theophilus said: “This is an active investigation and law enforcement is leading the charge in an attempt to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice speedily.”