Saint Lucia, Vieux Fort: British Skipper dies in Armed Robbery

A British cruiser has died trying to protect his wife from armed boarders whilst at anchor in Vieux Fort, Friday 17 January.

Published 10 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Three people are in custody and a murder inquiry launched after the death of cruiser Roger Pratt, 62, in Saint Lucia last Friday.

Roger and his wife Margaret were attacked while their boat was berthed at the Seaport in Vieux Fort.

Local press reports:  According to the police, “About midnight on Friday, January 17, 2014, officers attached to the Vieux Fort Police Station responded to a report of a robbery on a vessel named “Magnetic Attraction” which was berthed at the Seaport in Vieux Fort.

“On arrival, the officers received information that three armed men had boarded the vessel, attacked and injured the occupants before they fled. At the time of the incident, the vessel was occupied by 60-year-old Margaret Pratt and her 62-year-old husband, Roger Pratt.

“Within minutes of the robbers fleeing, Margaret went in search of her husband and found him floating in the nearby waters. 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.

“A post-mortem examination has been scheduled for Monday, January 20, 2014.”

Roger and Margaret were halfway through a year-long voyage to celebrate Margaret’s 60th birthday. They left Lowestoft, the UK in June heading to the Algarve, Portugal and then on to the Caribbean.

A St. Lucian police spokesman confirmed Mr Pratt died trying to defend his wife from attackers, but said there was no evidence the man was shot. He said: “Nobody has been arrested yet but there are some guys in custody. The investigators are very busy looking at what happened.”

It is not clear if Roger and Margaret were asleep at the time of the boarding, or if the boat was unlocked.

Writing on her blog [Broken Link] in the hours before the attack, Mrs Pratt told how bureaucracy thwarted their attempts to leave that part of the Caribbean.

She said: “On Thursday morning the plan was to clear out from Soufriere, then to travel south and use up the 72 hours before we had to be away. But bureaucracy intervened. HM Customs and Excise in Soufriere told us that exit had to happen within 24 hours of clearing out; and that anyway, we couldn’t clear out of Soufriere that day because the Immigration Officer hadn’t come to work(!!)

“So here we are in Vieux Fort, the most southerly port of clearance in St Lucia. It’s very different. There is a port; an airport and no tourists – and so it’s a regular town. We went ashore in the fishing dock this morning and explored the options for clearing out.  If we don’t want to clear out at the airport over the weekend, we have to wait till Monday, at the commercial port.  It’s a good anchorage, although every so often a big gust tears down the hills and buffets the boat.  There’s no swell to speak of. So we’ll be here over the weekend; clear out on Monday, and leave on Tuesday.”

Police officials are disputing reports the victim was shot, saying a post-mortem examination on Monday will determine the exact cause of death.

“I wish to assure you that as a destination St. Lucia remains relatively safe for nationals and visitors alike,” Lorne Theophilus, the tourism minister, said. “We are fully committed to seeing this investigation through to a final conclusion.”

Read more at the following news reports:

Follow up: TV Interview with Margaret Pratt, wife of murdered British yachtsman

Sky News: Briton Killed In St Lucia Was Defending Wife

Daily Mail: Husband gunned down as he defended his wife from yacht robbers in St Lucia: Couple attacked during a year-long sailing trip to celebrate her 60th birthday

St. Lucia News Online: 3 persons in custody in relation to British tourist’s death

Editor’s Note: As the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) finishes in Saint Lucia, a number of cruising forum posts have stated that SY Magnetic Attraction took part in the event. WCC can confirm however that SY Magnetic Attraction was not part of the ARC and was cruising independently.

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