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Bride shot dead in bedroom on her Caribbean honeymoon; Burglar kills doctor and leaves her husband fighting for life in hospital.

Byline: Abby Alford

SEVERAL people have been questioned by police hunting the killer of a Welsh bride on the last day of her honeymoon, officers in Antigua said last night.

As Catherine Mullany's husband Ben continues to fight for his life in hospital on the Caribbean island, Commissioner of Police Gary Nelson vowed to do "whatever it takes" to catch those behind the shootings.

Mrs Mullany, 31, a doctor, died instantly when she was shot in the head with a handgun during what police believe was a bungled robbery on Sunday morning at the Cocos Antigua hotel.

Mr Mullany, also 31, who was shot in the neck, was rushed to Holberton Hospital where he yesterday remained in a critical condition.

Speaking to the Western Mail from the Antiguan capital St John's, Mr Nelson said: "Several people have been brought in and questioned.

"This is a high priority for us and we will do whatever it takes to bring the people responsible to justice."

He said it appeared that someone had broken into their luxury cottage, with views over the Caribbean Sea, while they slept. It is thought they intended to rob the couple, both from Pontardawe, near Swansea.

Guests in a neighbouring bungalow heard shots at about 5am and called police.

Commissioner Nelson - a former Canadian police officer brought in earlier this year to revamp the Royal Police Force of Antigua following allegations of corruption and incompetence - said they were conducting the investigation "by the numbers to make sure it's thorough".

He said police officers, some using sniffer dogs, had cordoned off the area around the idyllic hotel on the west side of the island, and it would remain sealed off for several days while forensic teams gather evidence. A handgun is believed to have been used in the attack, but Commissioner Nelson said they had yet to recover the weapon.

He added more officers had been drafted in to the six-strong specialist homicide team to help with the major investigation.

Local media reported a spree of shootings on the island at the weekend with at least two other people attacked by masked gunmen.

But Andy Liburd, news editor of the Antigua Sun, said while crime had increased - there were a record 19murders on Antigua last year, with Catherine becoming the ninth homicide victim in 2008 - such attacks on tourists were "highly unusual".

"The last murder of a tourist was over 10 years ago," he said.

Mr Liburd added her death had sent shockwaves through the island's tourism industry and Lynne Morris, the UK representative for Cocos Antigua, told the Western Mail around a dozen frightened guests have now asked to be moved to other hotels.

She said the hotel had good security, which includes guards and CCTV coverage, but refused to say if the robbery or those behind the attack had been caught on tape Despite the rising crime rate, Antiguan Tourism Minister Harold Lovell said the incident was "isolated".

"Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families of the victims of this incident at this very difficult time," he said.

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

Catherine, known professionally as Dr Bowen - her maiden name - trained at Imperial College School of Medicine in London and qualified as a doctor in 2002.

She worked in the paediatric department at Swansea's Singleton Hospital and had lived with Mr Mullany in the close-knit community of Maeslan, Rhos, Pontardawe, for about three years.

The couple are believed to have met while working together at Morriston Hospital. Mrs Mullany, a Welsh speaker and former pupil of Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera, was due to take up a GP post at a surgery in Skewen in September.

Neighbours said Mr Mullany is close to completing a course in physiotherapy at Bristol University. His parents, Marilyn and Kenneth, were today anxiously waiting for news from Antigua at their house in Ystalyfera.

A spokeswoman for the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University NHS Trust said Dr Bowen joined the former Swansea NHS Trust in August, 2003.

Dr Bowen was training as a GP and her training involved working in a wide range of hospital departments, which over the last five years have included general medicine, cardiology, chest medicine, intensive care, anaesthetics, neurology, nephrology and accident and emergency.

Trust chief executive Paul Williams, said: "Staff at the Trust are shocked and devastated by Catherine's tragic death. She was a popular, talented and caring young doctor with a wonderful career ahead of her.

"The circumstances of her death are particularly poignant as she was on her honeymoon when this awful shooting occurred.

"Our sincere condolences go out to her family, and we are all praying that her husband makes a full recovery."

Paediatric Consultant and Clinical Director Mike Cosgrove, said: "We were expecting Catherine back from her honeymoon yesterday and instead we heard this terrible news. We are all completely devastated. She was an excellent doctor and a lovely person, and an extremely popular member of staff.

"She had so looked forward to her wedding, she had talked about it for months. Nobody can believe what has happened."

Chairman of the British Medical Association's Welsh Council, Dr Tony Calland said: "We were deeply saddened to learn of Dr Mullany's untimely death whilst on her honeymoon and we extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to her family, friends and colleagues who are left behind to grieve. We share in your sorrow and our heartfelt thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

"To be killed whilst on honeymoon - at the start of married life - is appalling, shocking and tragic. To her husband we wish a speedy and complete recovery."

CAPTION(S):

SO HAPPY: Benjamin Mullany and wife Catherine, from Pontardawe, on their wedding day earlier this month. She died on the last day of their honeymoon
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 29, 2008
Words:997
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