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British couple tell about ordeal at hands of robbers

British couple tell about ordeal at hands of robbers

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What was intended to be a relaxing experience in the Tobago Cays for a British couple took a turn for the worse when two masked men entered their boat, assaulted and robbed them, before taking off in a speed boat.{{more}}

Christopher Mennem and his wife Sandra appeared at the Serious Offences Court Tuesday and while on the witness stand, recalled their ten-minute ordeal.

In his statement, Christopher said that he and his wife have been living on their boat for the past 10 years. They arrived in the country on April 13 and journeyed to the Tobago Cays on May 25. They arrived at about 1 p.m. and moored and anchored their boat “Deep Blue” behind the reef.

“We were very excited to be there. It was the most beautiful place we have ever been to since sailing for the past 10 years,” he said.

The experienced sailor said that around 11 that night, he was awakened by the voice of his wife, who was screaming at him to wake up.

Christopher said that he used his flashlight and saw two men at the top of the cabin of the boat. While his wife screamed at the men to get off the boat, the intruders broke off the door and made their way down the stairs.

“Both men were wearing masks, which covered their heads to their shoulders,” he recalled.

He also described one of the men as being taller than the other.

Christopher said that the taller man put his hand around his wife’s throat and held what appeared to be a silver gun to her forehead.

The other man had what appeared to be a knife three to four inches long in his hand. Christopher recalled the assailant taking the flashlight away from him and hitting him about his head and face with it.

“There was a great deal of blood all over the boat from my wounds,” he said.

According to Christopher, the men also demanded money from them, so his wife showed them a wallet which was in the cabin beside the bed.

They emptied the wallet, which Christopher said contained between EC$500 and $550.

“They kept screaming that they wanted more money and we kept telling them we didn’t have any more. There was lots of swearing,” he added.

It was also revealed in court that the men demanded cell phones and the Very High Frequency (VHF) radio from the couple. Christopher said that his wife took one of the men to a cupboard where they kept their cell phones and he took the VHF radio from its cradle.

“They said that they did not want us to contact anyone.”

Before the men left, Christopher said that they asked for matches so that they could set the boat afire; however, they did not have any matches and the men made their way up the stairs to leave the boat.

He said that he managed to grab the flashlight and VHF radio from one of the men as he was leaving and this resulted in a brief scuffle on the stairs.

According to Christopher, the first masked man to leave the boat stumbled over the rails and into a speedboat which was pulled up right next to the boat. The second man followed.

When they sped off, the sailor claimed that he shone his flashlight on them and saw three men in a yellow and white speedboat.

When she took the witness stand, Sandra echoed most of what her husband said. She said she was awakened by the sound of a boat next to theirs.

“I was woken up by the sound of a boat very, very close to our boat. This particular boat did not sound like one I expected to hear at 11 at night,” she said.

She said that she got up to investigate, climbed into the cockpit and saw two men getting on to their boat.

“What do you want? Get off our boat,” she said to them, before heading back inside to wake up her husband.

She described her husband’s attacker as slim in build and her attacker as being tall with broad shoulders, and also noted that they both wore masks which covered their heads, with slits for their eyes.

She said that one of the men took the sheet off their bed and used it as a bag to carry the cell phones and the radio, before leaving the boat.

When the men sped off in their speedboat, Sandra said that she began screaming to alert anyone within the anchorage.

“I screamed like a mad woman to alert anybody on the boats around us,” she said.

Continuing with her testimony, Sandra said that a doctor, who was also visiting the Tobago Cays, came and attended to her husband’s injuries.

She also said that someone contacted the coastguard, who arrived shortly after and took her and her husband to Mayreau.

When they got to Mayreau, they were met by police officers who took a report from them. The coastguard then left for Union Island to return with reinforcement.

Sandra said that she and her husband were able to identify the men based on their build when the coast guard brought six men to the docks at Mayreau.

While they were there, the Mennems recognized the speedboat which the men had used to escape, tied to the dock. The police emptied it of its contents and Sandra said that she immediately recognized their Sony Ericsson cell phone, which was stolen earlier that night.

Three residents of Mayreau – Joe Lewis, 31, Ulrick Hanson – 26, and Jordan Forde – 22, were charged with robbery of the couple. Hanson faces the additional charge of criminal assault, while Lewis is also charged with wounding.

When they appeared in court on Tuesday, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias remanded Hanson, Lewis and Forde in custody until June 14, after which bail would be considered.

The matter has been adjourned to September 13, 2016. (CA)

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