Tuesday, March 24, 2009

British man on round-the-world sailing trip with wife battered to death by Burmese pirates

By Rebecca Camber and Claire Ellicott

Last updated at 12:45 AM on 25th March 2009

A Briton who set sail with his wife on a dream round-the-world voyage has been battered to death by pirates off the coast of Thailand.

Malcolm and Linda Robertson had anchored their £300,000 yacht - named Mr Bean after the chain of cafes they owned in Sussex - when it was stormed in the early hours.

Mr Robertson went to fend off the gang but they launched a frenzied attack on the 64-year-old, beating him with a hammer before barging into his wife's cabin.

Malcolm robertson

Dream voyage: Malcolm Robertson, seen with his wife Linda on board their yacht the Mr Bean, is believed to have been killed by pirates

She was taken out of her cabin and saw 'blood everywhere' but no sign of her husband before she was tied up below deck.

It is thought that the gang may have slit Mr Robertson's throat before throwing his bloodied body overboard.

The pirates sailed the 44ft yacht through the night. After 12 hours, they abandoned the luxury craft, making off in a small dinghy tied alongside after loading it up with electrical goods including laptops and video players.

When Mrs Robertson, 58, heard them leave she managed to wriggle free of the ropes, but was spotted by the pirates who turned back.

 Linda Robertson

Police officers help Linda Robertson back on to dry land after her boat was attacked by pirates who murdered her husband

Blood can be seen spattered on the inside of the cabin of the Mr Bean after the horrifying attack

Blood can be seen spattered on the inside of the cabin of the Mr Bean after the horrifying attack

The brave grandmother then took control of the boat and managed to outrun them, sailing to a nearby fishing vessel for help. Local fishermen contacted police who picked up the pirates, said to be three teenagers from Burma.

Police say the trio have already confessed to killing Mr Robertson, from St Leonardson-Sea, East Sussex. By last night his body had still not been found.

Colonel Virat Ohn-song, of the La-ngoo district police station, said: 'They tried to steal the dinghy and beat Mr Robertson with their fists and hammers until he died. We believe he was dead before he was thrown into the water.'

The couple, who have four children, had been sailing around the world for the last decade - returning to the UK to see their family every summer.

Enlarge Re: Malcolm Robertson Murder

The incident happened off the coast of Satun in southern Thailand

They had sailed up the Amazon, the Panama Canal, through the Galapagos Islands and around New Zealand and Australia.

Their internet blog told of anchoring off idyllic beaches, sunbathing, swimming with manta rays, enjoying champagne breakfasts and barbecues on deck, and watching sunsets with a glass of wine in hand.

Last night Mrs Robertson was being treated in hospital in Thailand but her injuries were not thought to be serious.

Malcolm Robertson

Mr Robertson enjoys a swim in the sea off Phuket with his grandchildren Issy and Mina

The Mr Bean, the boat on which the Robertsons were sailing when the shocking attack occurred

The Mr Bean, the boat on which the Robertsons were sailing when the shocking attack occurred

Her brother John Clee, 63, from St Leonards-on-Sea, said: 'Malcolm and Linda led a life that would make everybody else envious. The children ran the business when they were away and they took over again when they returned. The children are distraught.'

He added: 'I spoke to Linda on the phone. She kept saying, "They've murdered Malcolm."

'It happened about 1am Thai time. Malcolm was sleeping in the cabin at the front while she was in the larger cabin at the back. She heard someone climbing on to the deck and called out to Malcolm. She then heard a commotion and heard him say "Get off the boat, get off the boat."

'Then three young boys aged about 16 came into her cabin. At that point she came out of her cabin and saw blood everywhere. She thought she was going to die.'

'She thinks Malcolm was thrown overboard after he was hit with a hammer. She's traumatised. She's got swollen legs and arms from being tied up, and a few bruises.

'She can't understand why he was killed and she wasn't.'

Three Burmese migrant workers, pictured, have been arrested on suspicion of murdering Mr Robertson

Three Burmese migrant workers, pictured, have been arrested on suspicion of murdering Mr Robertson

The couple, married for 24 years, were moored off the coast of Satun, in southern Thailand. The area is close to where refugees from Burma try to seek land after fleeing the Burmese military junta.

The Robertsons had been heading for Malaysia where they planned to moor their yacht and fly home on April 9.

Pirates had boarded their yacht before, but Mr Robertson used to carry cigarettes and brandy to give to thieves.

Last night their four children were flying out to Thailand.

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