British Sailor Rescued From Sinking Catamaran Jailed For Killing Wife

Isabella Hellmann vanished at sea three months after their wedding

A sailor rescued alone from his sinking catamaran after issuing an SOS call reporting his wife missing at sea has been jailed after admitting killing her.

Lewis Bennett, of Poole in Dorset, stood accused of murdering Isabella Hellmann and intentionally scuttling the vessel off the coast of Cuba before he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The 42-year-old was sentenced to eight years in a Miami court. He was ordered to pay $22,910 (about £18,000) in restitution to his and Hellmann’s daughter and will spend three years on supervised release after serving his prison term.

He had already been serving a seven-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to transporting the coins.

The newlyweds, who had recently welcomed a baby daughter, had been sailing from Cuba to their home in Delray Beach, Florida, when Bennett sent a distress signal on May 15 2017.

The experienced sailor with dual British-Australian citizenship claimed he awoke to find his novice passenger missing from the 34ft vessel, Surf Into Summer.

The couple's catamaran
The couple's catamaran

But it was not for some 45 minutes, and after he fled in a life raft carrying Cuban trinkets, a tea set and a jar of peanut butter, that he reported her absence.

He was plucked from the sea but, despite an extensive search, the 41-year-old’s body was never found and she was declared dead by a judge earlier this month.

Prosecutors had alleged he murdered her and deliberately sunk the catamaran to end his “marital strife” and inherit her beachside home and wealth.

But they reduced the charge involuntary manslaughter, to which Bennett pleaded guilty.

In a bizarre twist, Bennett was found to be smuggling rare coins worth nearly £30,000 during his rescue which prosecutors cited as another potential reason he may have wanted her dead.

He had reported the gold and silver collectables stolen from a former employer in St Maarten a year earlier.

Lewis Bennett and Isabella Hellmann had a child together
Lewis Bennett and Isabella Hellmann had a child together

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