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pounds 65,000 price on head of gunman who killed Catherine and left her husband Ben fighting for his life in Antigua; Parents keep vigil at their son's bedside.

Byline: Abby Alford

A REWARD of nearly pounds 65,000 - around 350 times the average monthly Antiguan salary - has been put on the head of the gunman who killed newlywed Catherine Mullany and left her husband Ben fighting for his life.

As police on the Caribbean island admit their investigation has hit a brick wall, the worried hotel and business community made the cash offer in an attempt to crack the case they fear could jeopardise the lucrative tourism industry.

Ben, 31, from Pontardawe, who was shot in the neck on Sunday morning, remains in a critical condition in Holberton Hospital, where his parents Marilyn and Cynlais are keeping a bedside vigil.

The physiotherapy student was attacked in the bungalow he and Catherine, also 31, had been staying in on their honeymoon at the Cocos Antigua hotel.

Catherine, a trainee GP, was shot in the head and died instantly. Her parents, David and Rachel Bowen, have also flown out to the island from their home in the village of Cilybebyll, near Pontardawe.

Members of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotel Association, in conjunction with the local business community, have offered a 250,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars (pounds 46,500) reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person, or persons, responsible for taking the life of Catherine and injuring her husband.

An anonymous businessman is also said to have put up a further 100,000 EC dollars, around pounds 18,000.

Antigua's Tourism Minister Harold Lovell said: "We welcome this initiative from the hotel and business community which is indicative of the overwhelming desire of our nation to ensure that whoever committed this crime is brought to justice as speedily as possible.

"All governmental, business and community associations are working together on a unified front and determined to overcome this tragic and isolated incident which has so saddened our people."

Mr Lovell said the police investigation was continuing and urged the media to avoid speculation that could hamper the inquiry and cause unnecessary distress.

Meanwhile, police hunting the gunman have admitted they are no nearer finding the culprit.

Officers said three men were being questioned over the attack, but none had been made suspects.

Inspector Cornelius Charles said the island's 350-strong police force was not at the stage where it could identify any suspects and added: "There's no telling when we're going to get there."

Two security guards at the Cocos hotel, where the shootings happened in cottage 15, were questioned and released, he said.

Police commissioner Gary Nelson, who was brought in from Canada to improve Antigua's troubled force earlier this year, added: "We're looking at all young men who have committed violent acts and we're questioning them."

Inspector Charles denied reports that the couple had been tortured.

A British tourist staying at the same resort in Antigua reported hearing screams 20 minutes apart and gunshots, followed by a female voice shouting "Help me please". Lorraine Martin-Bell, 32, and her husband Steve, from Devon, were staying at the same resort as the newlyweds when the shooting occurred early on Sunday morning.

The Antiguan Ministry of Tourism confirmed Ben remains in a critical condition yesterday.

The hospital has refused to confirm comments by one of its surgeons, Dr Fidel Fernandez, that Mr Mullany was brain dead with "no chance of survival". A nurse confirmed his condition remained "critical" and there had been no improvement.

People who knew Catherine and Ben have continued to pay tribute to the couple Roy Davies, head of P Eat Ben's old school, Cwmt a we Comprehensive, told the Western Mail: "He was a very good sportsman. A complete all-rounder, but rugby was his forte.

"He was a very good wing and centre and did well in the Welsh Schools Team trial system, making the final stage.

"He was a very pleasant pupil and also did well in his exams."

Mr Davies said Ben was keen on keeping fit and thought he would have gone into the Forces after leaving school.

"I heard about what happened on the news. It was a shock and is very sad for both families."

CAPTION(S):

SHOT DEAD IN ROOM: Dr Catherine Mullany.; DEVASTATED: Catherine's dad David and mum Rachel, left, and Ben's parents Cynlais and Marilyn arrive at the hospital in Antigua. Police admitted yesterday they were no nearer finding the gunman who attacked the newlyweds
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 31, 2008
Words:729
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