THE family of a former South Yorkshire Police officer and his wife murdered on their Caribbean honeymoon are said to be “extremely shocked” after one of their killers escaped from prison.
Newlyweds Ben and Catherine Mullany had been married for little over a fortnight when they were shot in their hotel room on the holiday island of Antigua in 2008.
Local men Avie Howell and Kaniel Martin were later convicted of the murders and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Police in Antigua confirmed today that Howell had escaped from Her Majesty’s Prison on the island along with a fellow inmate who had been detained on fraud charges.
Mr and Mrs Mullany’s family in South Wales were “extremely shocked” at the news and concerned that Howell might flee the island, a source said.
They said: “You would have thought they would have kept him under lock and key.”
Counsellor Jamal Wright, based at St John’s police station in Antigua, said: “Avie Howell escaped from Her Majesty’s Prison at about 6am on Thursday along with Kenroy Laurie Marshall.
“Apparently they used a sharp implement to cut out a portion of mesh and jumped over the northern prison wall, which is about 30ft (9m) high.”
Sergeant Raymond Finley said he believed that Howell, who is in his 20s, was still on the island and local police and defence forces were searching for him.
“I understand the victims’ families will be very concerned,” he said.
Howell and Martin burst into Mr and Mrs Mullany’s chalet at the Cocos Hotel in a dawn raid in July 2008.
The 31-year-olds, who lived in Rhos, near Pontardawe, were both shot in the head while their killers made off with their mobile phones, a cheap digital camera and a handful of cash.
Qualified doctor Mrs Mullany died instantly. Her physiotherapy student husband - who was studying for his degree at the University of West England in Bristol - was flown home on a life-support machine.
Despite the best efforts of his wife’s colleagues at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, he died a week after the shooting.
Five weeks after witnessing their wedding at St John The Evangelist Church in Cilybebyll, their parents were attending the couple’s funeral.
Three years to the day after the deaths, Howell and Martin were found guilty of murdering the honeymoon couple as well as shooting 43-year-old local shopkeeper Woneta Anderson.
The killers were both jailed for life.
Last year Howell was handed an additional four-year sentence for a burglary he carried out just weeks before murdering Mr and Mrs Mullany.
Neath MP Peter Hain said: “It is vital that Howell is hunted down urgently and brought back into jail. He took part in a gruesome murder of a lovely young couple who had so much to give to their local community and also had a zest for life.
“It is unthinkable that Howell is at large.”