Thursday 21 September 2017

Irish woman murdered in tropical paradise

Edel O'Connell

A WOMAN brutally killed on a paradise island was yesterday identified by locals as an Irish national.

Described as being in her 70s and understood to hail from Co Waterford, the woman was found dead in her home on the South Pacific Island of Vanuatu with her Dutch husband yesterday morning.

The couple, who had previously been living in Holland, had moved to the city of Port Vila in Vanuatu three years ago to retire.

Police believe inmates who recently escaped from the city's high-risk prison are responsible for their deaths, but they are continuing to investigate.

Seven inmates have escaped in a series of breakouts since late last year, the latest being on April 16.

Police also believe they were involved in four armed robberies in the capital last week.

The elderly couple were found dead in their bedroom with their throats slit.

The grim discovery was made by their gardener who had walked to the couple's home when they failed to pick him up as usual.

There was some confusion over the woman's nationality last night. While locals identified her as being Irish, police said they found Dutch passports at the scene. There has been no official confirmation of her background.

Deputy police commissioner Arthur Caulton said authorities had yet to determine a motive but added it was likely the gang were looking for valuables in the house. "We suspect that those who are still on the run might be involved, but that will require further investigation," he said.

Vanuatu has been voted the 'happiest place on earth' more than once, but rising crime against expatriates over the past year has threatened to taint its reputation.

It is part of a string of more than 80 islands once known as the New Hebrides in the Pacific Ocean, 1,750km east of Northern Australia. It is mountainous, covered with tropical rainforests and prone to earthquakes and tidal waves. The island has been spared the unrest which has befallen neighbouring countries such as the Solomon Islands and Fiji.

Irish Independent

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