St Lucia murder: Roger Pratt's family 'shocked and shattered'

Michelle Fleury reports from St Lucia: ''What was meant to be a great adventure, has turned into a nightmare''

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The sister-in-law of a British man who was murdered after attackers boarded his boat in the Caribbean has said the family is "shocked and shattered".

Roger Pratt, 62, from Warwickshire, died and his wife Margaret was injured after armed men climbed aboard their yacht moored off St Lucia on Friday.

Jenny Riley said it was a "shocking and tragic end" to the couple's dream.

Three men have been detained over the attack. A post-mortem examination is due to be carried out today.

'Badly beaten up'

Mrs Riley, a teacher from Beccles, Suffolk, said Mr Pratt had been preparing for the long voyage for many years.

The West Indies is one of the most popular destinations for sailors.

St Lucia is the first stop for many boats coming across the Atlantic just like Roger and Margaret Pratt had done.

Most people tend to stay on the more popular and touristy north coast of the island but the couple headed south towards Soufriere and the volcanic World Heritage Site, the Pitons.

According to posts on social media they were delayed by customs there so they continued down to Vieux Fort.

It's a stop off before people cruise the chain of small islands in the eastern Caribbean that was part of their round the world adventure.

There are fewer yachts in the area and most boats don't go into the marina but sit at anchor in the bay, this is where Mr and Mrs Pratt were attacked.

Thefts from boats has been a problem in St Lucia in the past, but it's uncommon for criminals to target them whilst owners are on board.

She added that the retired engineer from Moreton Paddox near Stratford-upon-Avon was meticulous in his attention to detail and extremely safety-conscious.

The couple had planned to set sail for the next stage of their journey the day before the attack but were prevented from leaving by a bureaucratic hold-up.

Mrs Riley said she had spoken to her sister by telephone on Sunday and she had said her injuries were not life-threatening and she was recovering well.

She has since been released from hospital.

Mrs Riley said Mrs Pratt had been "badly beaten up but she will pull through".

"It's a shocking and tragic end to their dream and we're all coming to terms with it as best we can.

"Margaret's life has been turned upside down."

Mrs Riley said she and her husband Bryan had visited the couple in Martinique over Christmas.

"They had been planning the trip for years and sailing across the Atlantic to explore the Caribbean was Roger's dream," she said.

"They were both experienced sailors and had sailed dinghies and keelboats since they were children."

'Found floating'

St Lucia police said officers were called to reports of a robbery on the Pratts' yacht, the Magnetic Attraction, while it was moored in Vieux Fort on the island's south coast at about midnight on Friday.

The cause of Mr Pratt's death has not been established, but police said there was no evidence he was shot.

A police spokesperson said three armed men had attacked the couple before fleeing and that it was believed Mr Pratt had died while trying to defend his wife.

"Margaret went in search of her husband and found him floating in the nearby waters," he said.

Family home Neighbours in Moreton Paddox said the news was 'dreadful'

"Roger was retrieved and transported to St Jude Hospital via ambulance along with his wife.

"He was pronounced dead on arrival while Margaret was treated and discharged."

The couple had been on their voyage since June, when they left Lowestoft, Suffolk, and headed for the Algarve before navigating their way to the Caribbean.

Mrs Pratt, a retired management consultant, had celebrated her 60th birthday a few days before the attack.

Neighbours said Mr Pratt had attended a course on piracy avoidance and had taken the possibility of an attack seriously.

Dick Brown said he had "deliberately avoided going round the Horn of Africa because of the risk from Somali pirates".

The Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club said it was "stunned and saddened" to hear of the death of Mr Pratt, one of its members, offering its sincere condolences to the family.

Prayers were also said for the couple at the parish church.

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