Margaret Pratt on St Lucia murder: ‘My life is on hold until we have justice’

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Margaret Pratt on St Lucia murder: ‘My life is on hold until we have justice’
Margaret Pratt
Margaret Pratt


THE TELEGRAPH (UK) –
A British woman whose husband was murdered in a bungled robbery on their yacht in St Lucia has criticised the Caribbean island’s justice system, demanding that it speed up its “glacial” investigation and bring the culprits to justice.

Margaret Pratt, 60, found her husband Roger, 62, a retired engineer, floating face down in the sea after four men stormed their yacht and attacked the couple. Four men were arrested – but since then the legal process has stalled.

“I’m disappointed and frustrated,” she said. “There is no reason for this.”

Speaking to The Telegraph in her first interview, nine months after the incident, Mrs Pratt, a management consultant, told of her anger at the delay.

“It’s now nine months since my husband was murdered in St Lucia, and I am starting to feel frustrated by the lack of progress,” she said.

“Initially I commended the St Lucia government – they really gave it their all to make sure that people were charged. But things have ground to a halt.

“And if it does take four to five years, my life will be on hold for four to five years, until I can put this behind me. It’s not just for me – this isn’t a special case. I don’t want a special case, special pleading, but justice delayed is justice denied.”

Mrs Pratt, who met her husband through a mutual love of sailing, said she was looked after well initially by the St Lucian authorities. With tourism accounting for 65 per cent of its gross domestic produce, the government did all it could to assist her and save the island’s reputation.

Kenny Anthony, the prime minister, visited Mrs Pratt and offered his support. A police escort was provided, to shield her from journalists. The hotel staff could not have been more helpful, she said.

“While I was there they knew the damage I could do, so they took great care,” she said. She knew that with the world’s media descending on the island she had the potential to shine a spotlight on the dark criminal underbelly of St Lucia.

“But now I’m not there – out of sight is out of mind. And they have moved on to other things,” she said.

The Pratts sailed for St Lucia in June 2013 after retiring and renting out their Warwickshire home. The trip was a leg of a round-the-world voyage that had been their lifelong dream. First stop was Martinique, and then St Lucia, where Mrs Pratt celebrated her 60th birthday, dining with seafaring friends in Marigot Bay. From St Lucia, the plan was to go on to the Grenadines, and then probably up to the US to avoid the hurricane season.

Margaret and Roger Pratt with friends Signe Storr and Henrik Hansen at the Rainforest Hideaway in Marigot Bay, St Lucia

But at about 11pm on Jan 17, as they had just gone to bed, they heard a rowing boat drawing closer to their yacht. “We heard them above us,” she said. “We had gone to bed, and heard the noise.”

Four men were on board – unarmed, Mrs Pratt thinks, but “geared up” to raid the boat. “I just think the red mist descended,” she said. “One held me down and the other beat me up. And out of the corner of my eye I saw Roger wrestling with one of them.”

When the men jumped into the sea and fled, a bloodied and bruised Mrs Pratt searched for her husband. She saw him floating facedown in the sea.

Four men – Richie Kern, Fanis Joseph, Jermoine Jones and Kervin Devaux – have been charged with Mr Pratt’s murder. All four have been remanded in custody since their arrests nine months ago and it could be up to five years before their murder trial begins.

“By the time I left they had crawled over the boat for the forensics, had found the people, who confessed – everything was in good shape,” she said.

But since then, there had been no advance – no date for the trial, and a series of hearings had been deferred.

“The government cannot interfere with the judiciary – and quite right,” Mrs Pratt said. “But then you dig a bit deeper and discover that there was this immense backlog of cases of people on remand. It’s immense.”

The island of 175,000 people has only one prison, which was built for 500 inmates but houses more than 600, at least half of whom are awaiting trial.

Until recently, St Lucia had only one judge with the authority to rule on serious crime. A second was hired but unable to take up his post because no courtroom was available until last month.

“This is causing problems for foreigners and St Lucians,” said a Western envoy. “It makes it more difficult to get a prosecution because witnesses, evidence and everything you need for a trial is more difficult to put in place six years on.”

A spokesman for the St Lucian prime minister did not respond to requests for comment. “The government should be making sure the judiciary has sufficient resources to clear the pipeline – that’s its role,” Mrs Pratt said.

She has gone back to work, in what she says is an attempt to take her mind off the “very, very vivid” recollections of that night. “You relive it most days,” she said.

But she bears no hatred for the accused. “There is no bile. They all have form, they are petty thieves, for whom also the red mist descended. These are young men, who had geared themselves up …” she said, her voice trailing away.

“It is hanging over me. And while I can rebuild my life, that rebuilding won’t be complete until the trial is over.”

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48 COMMENTS

  1. Kenny said: "better days are coming..." Now the man's statement was incomplete, but we wouldn't let him finish! We somehow got all sucked up in the partial speech(which was incomplete). What he was really trying to say was that, "better days are coming..after I would have left office" SIMPLE! 🙂

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  2. Well, if that's what it takes for the authorities to get their act together, so be it.
    Accept my condolences.

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  3. This "issue" is something that we LOOSHANS have to deal with DAILY!!!!!!

    we have sons of the soil sitting in prison for years!!!!!!! awaiting trial...jus because this lady points it out doesn't make it ALL OF A SUDDEN important.

    its a shame though that somebody from "foreign soil" has to note the issue for it to make PUBLIC NEWS

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  4. Look how compassionate she is. Many Lucian hotheads should take a leaf out of her book -she's not even blaming the thugs who did it. She just wants a proper trial and for justice to be served.

    Shame on many of the posters here. You would not be as civilised in your response as her.

    Backward people.

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  5. She Needs To Make An Example Out Of The Justice System IN St.Lucia. It's about time the government in St. Lucia take these unsolved cases seriously. If talking about it on international media so be it, we need a closure for all those who have lost loved ones by the hands of those bastard She should sue St.Lucia government they are all sitting on the ass.

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  6. Firstly I would like to say, I feel your pain. I am in similar case and my life is on hold when it comes to receiving justice. Only people who have had their life altered by some criminal act commited against them will be able to relate. Mrs Pratt I totally identify with you, others tend to be too simplistic in their view on something they know nothing of. Justice takes too long to be served in this country. What generally happens is that the accuse will stay on remand for some time and then they will be released as their lawyer argues that they have been unfairly treated. But what about the victims? what about their family members who have to continue reliving the ordeal over and over. It never leaves you, and then society expects you to just forget about it, until they become a victim themselves, and the cycle continues.

    Please we need to reform the justice system. We need to take crime more serious and find ways to reduce crime. People can we not see criminals get away with almost anything. That is why somebody can think that it is within their right to go up to ciceron, then kill a father just because he is doing his job as a father. And why a man will be on his farm working and others kills him on his farm in soufriere. The list goes on and on. We need to stop this before we self distruct.

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  7. Wow! Your life will go on hold too if you gonna wait on our court system for justice. Somebody tell her please......

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  8. Margaret, you need to take your grievance to Her Majesty the Queen, she is the Head of State of Saint Lucia after all. Yes, our justice is definitely slow!

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  9. How can you class her as a jackass? Yes she took her property - the boat and left. it was our responsibility to collect all possible forensic evidence at the earliest point. She would have left the boat and then what...it goes missing, it is vandalized. get your small head out of the sand and be more understanding. She lost her life long partner. Whether the person is british, west indian, american whatever ... doesn't she have a right to demand justice? have you ever been in her shoe? have you ever lost a love one at the hands of our senseless young people who refuse to make a living for themselves but instead prey on hard working people and then end up eating our tax money because our governments (red and yellow) refuse to do what is necessary to deter criminals in our society. She said she was well taken care of while here because we knew the havoc she could wreak on our country, she is right - out of sight, out of mind like so many others including our own. C'mon Lucians...

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  10. Since we like foreign so much.
    May be now the Criminal Justice System will get the focus, attention and revamp that is being demanded by all.

    Remember Borderlais has a man on remand for 10 years for stealing clothes off a line. That means his case eh call yet.

    FOR CLOTHES!!!

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  11. Aa, and to think the PM is a lawyer and so as some of his goons. They cannot even solve the judicial problem but busy blaming others for their failures. it is a ashame to have such a judicial system considering the PM is a lawyer. SMH. Even worst all of them filthy rich whiles we average lucians their scrunting.

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  12. All of you are missing the point. Saint Lucia is a huge cesspool of everything ugly and vile. The right to a speedy trial is a fundamental right given to citizens of most modern democracies. That is why crime will never stop in Saint Lucia. Personally I am advising everyone to stay away from Saint Lucia because of the criminal activity that has taken over the island and the lack of due process even after the criminals are caught. Barbados is way better for a vacation and the bajans actually want tourists to come.

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    • I am going to say one thing and one thing only.......DO YOU KNOW THAT BARBADOS PAYS TO COVER UP STORIES LIKE THESE SO THEIR OH SO GREAT TOURISM INDUSTRY DOES NOT LOOK LIKE WHAT WE HAVE HERE??????????????? DO YOUR RESEARCH. WHEN HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF MAJOR CRIMES GOING ON THERE?

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  13. "...has criticised the Caribbean island’s justice system...."
    -----------------------------------------
    For some reason, I thought our justice system was modeled after the British's system.

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    • It is. But you can have all the laws in the world, if you don't have good people running it, then crap happens. Don't be a mental ignorant - you know full well what the issues are.

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  14. Ok, I get it. The lady is frustated because she not getting justice fast enough. Lady ask St Lucians how they are having to deal with everyday life and fighting for justice for their loved ones

    What happened was very tragic and justice sholud be served, but my lady you will have to wait your turn like all my fellow St Lucians, and just like the Stephen Lawrence family in the UK who had to wait for justice for their son who was murdered in 1993 for being black.

    How long did it take the british government and all their cover ups to bring 4 persons to justice?

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  15. They are all over the world promoting the island and yet still thy can't prioritise the judicial system so that people can get a fair trial.Families need answers justice minister?what are you and your government are going to do about it?

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  16. we still dont know if is you who planned it for insurance money hmmm needs some speed uh so many criminals women and men ,,foriegn and yard

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    • yeah that's right. From their once in a lifetime anniversary 'round the world' voyage, she wanted to stop in SLU to meet some crims to knock off her husband and claim some insurance money.. Which one of your family did it?

      No Face? No Brain, more like you ignorant shat.

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