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Husband of former Isle of Wight hospital boss murdered in St Lucia
Updated 5:19pm Sunday 19th January 2014 in News
Neighbours of a man who died defending his wife, a forme south coast hospital boss, when attackers boarded their boat in the Caribbean during a dream holiday have spoken of their deep shock and sadness.
Police on the island of St Lucia said they were holding two people while its investigations were continuing after 62-year-old Roger Pratt from Warwickshire died on Friday, just hours before he and wife Margaret were seemingly prevented from leaving port by local red tape.
Mrs Pratt, a management consultant, who had also worked for various NHS trusts, including chief executive of St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight, is being treated in hospital after the attack.
The couple had been part-way through a round-the-world holiday of a lifetime when the incident happened.
A St Lucian police spokesman said Mr Pratt died trying to defend his wife from attackers, but said there was no evidence he had been shot.
He said: ''Nobody has been arrested yet but there are some guys in custody.
''The investigators are very busy looking at what happened.''
In the up-market hamlet of Moreton Paddox near Stratford-on-Avon where the couple had lived neighbours spoke of their horror at what had happened.
Lavinia O'Shaughnessy, who has known the couple 15 years, said: ''I just feel really upset because for something like that to happen to people who are so very nice is terrible - I wanted them to come back.
She added: ''They were going on a journey on their boat, sailing around the world.
''Roger wasn't about much because he was retired so he would be down on the Isle of Wight where it was moored at the time, getting it ready for their trip.
''They rented their house out a few months ago, then went off sailing.''
Mrs O'Shaughnessy said: ''Margaret was very friendly - she'd pick me up at the end of the road to give me a lift into town if she saw me, she was that sort of person.
''She was very into her work.
''I miss her really, and I'm very sorry to hear about Roger.''
She added that the couple, who were co-directors of their own management firm, had recently moved back to Norfolk where they were originally from, buying a small house there and working on their yacht.
Mrs Pratt had celebrated her 60th birthday in St Lucia just a few days before they were apparently set upon by attackers, while moored off the Vieux Fort coast on the southern tip of the island.
The couple had left Lowestoft in June, navigating the English coastline before heading to the Algarve and on to the Caribbean.
Writing on her LinkedIn profile before she left, Mrs Pratt said: ''Off travelling! The plan is to be in the Caribbean for my 60th birthday in January 2014... all a bit of a leap into the unknown.''
She had also kept a blog and wrote just hours before the attack how local customs officials had delayed their attempts to leave before the weekend.
Another couple who had known Mr and Mrs Pratt for 25 years since moving to the hamlet, said they had ensured their yacht - called the Magnetic Attraction - had a steel hull because of concerns over discarded shipping containers floating in the sea which if hit can hole wooden boats.
A neighbour, who declined to give his name, said the couple had no children, but that Mrs Pratt had a sister.
He added 62-year-old Mr Pratt had once worked for Land Rover but not for some years and had always had a passion for sailing as long as he had known him.
''Sailing was their hobby, it was a real passion for them,'' he said.
''They moved away to Norfolk just under a year ago, and bought a little house there and worked on the boat.
''I think it was May last year when Roger came around to the house to say goodbye and that they were off on their journey.
''I said to Roger 'I hope you have a good trip, and I wish you every success', and it's such a shame.''
Rev John Parker, vicar of the Midfosse parishes which includes Moreton Paddox, said prayers for the couple had been said at Sunday services.
''People have woken up today and are only now becoming aware of the news,'' he said.
''They set off on the experience of a lifetime only for them to have been set upon, it seems, by robbers in a crime that appears to have gone horribly wrong.
''Our hopes and prayers are with the family and particularly Margaret, and we wish her a speedy recovery.''
Writing on her blog in the hours before the attack, Mrs Pratt said local officialdom had prevented them immediately continuing their travels.
She said: ''On Thursday morning...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(!!)''
St Lucian tourism minister Lorne Theophilus said: ''It is with much regret that I and other industry partners have learnt of the unfortunate incident which has resulted in the loss of life of a visitor to our shores.
''At this time we extend our sincerest condolences to the family of British national Roger Pratt. To his wife, who also sustained injuries as a result of the attack off the Vieux Fort coast, we extend our deepest sympathies. Our prayers are with her for a speedy recovery.
''This is an active investigation and law enforcement is leading the charge in an attempt to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice speedily. Law enforcement officials have briefed myself and other senior tourism officials on aspects of the case although I am not at liberty to share some of those details with you at this time.''
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