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Court shown pictures ‘revealing how Briton killed his wife at sea’ | US News

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New pictures have emerged that prosecutors say show how a British sailor killed his American wife by sinking their catamaran off the coast of Cuba.

Lewis Bennett, from Poole in Dorset, is due to be sentenced next Tuesday over the death of Isabella Hellmann during their honeymoon in May 2017.

Authorities originally charged Bennett with murder, claiming that he had killed the 41-year-old to end their failing marriage and inherit her Florida estate.

His wife mysteriously vanished after the catamaran sunk
Image:
Isabella mysteriously vanished after the catamaran sunk

The charge was later downgraded to manslaughter and Bennett pleaded guilty – agreeing to ask for no less than seven years behind bars.

Prosecutors in Miami are seeking a sentence of eight years, and ahead of his sentencing have filed court documents that include several new photos of the wrecked boat.

The pictures, taken by the US Coastguard, show the vessel with open escape hatches and damage to both hulls, which prosecutors say was caused from inside the boat.

Hatches underneath the boat were found open. Pic: US Coastguard
Image:
Hatches underneath the boat were found open. Pic: US Coastguard

Bennett allegedly opened the hatches and damaged the hulls himself before making an SOS call to report that the vessel – called Surf Into Summer – was sinking and that his wife was missing.

Also included in the documents are shots of the raft Bennett used to escape, along with his luggage, supplies and a hoard of rare coins worth $30,000 (£22,905).

He was smuggling the silver coins after stealing them from a former employer and he was handed a seven-month prison sentence after admitting the theft last year.

Bennett allegedly opened the hatches and damaged the hulls himself Pic: US Coastguard
Image:
Bennett allegedly opened the hatches and damaged the hulls himself Pic: US Coastguard

Prosecutor Kurt Lunkenheimer is seeking to prove that Bennett being willing to “pack all of these items into a life raft, but not actively and diligently look for his wife” showed that he was deserving of the maximum sentence.

Bennett has claimed that he had been resting in the cabin when he was woken by a loud noise, and that when he went on deck he found the sails and rigging loose and his wife missing.

But the court has heard how he did not try to search for her, activate emergency equipment, or raise the alarm.

The entire vessel was almost fully submerged when found by the US Coastguard. Pic: US Coastguard
Image:
The entire vessel was almost fully submerged when found by the US Coastguard. Pic: US Coastguard

Last week, members of the Hellmann family wrote to the judge to say that the seven to eight years in jail for Bennett would not be enough and they would rather see the case go to trial.

Isabella – who had a daughter with Bennett in 2016 – has never been found.

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