New photos reveal how a British sailor murdered his wife while on their honeymoon in the Caribbean by intentionally sinking the small ship they were on.
British-Australian man Lewis Bennett has pleaded guilty to killing his new wife Isabella Hellman, 41, at sea and prosecutors are now seeking a maximum sentence.
Prosecutors have released photos of the damage Bennett allegedly inflicted on the ship’s hull in an effort to sink it and make Hellman’s death look like a tragic accident.
The FBI in the US have accused him of intentionally sinking the ship in a bid to inherit his wife’s estate in the horrific plot which unfolded on May 15, 2017.
Bennett allegedly opened escape hatches and damaged the twin hulls of the catamaran he and Hellman were travelling on for their honeymoon, reported CBS12.
Honeymoon murder: New photos show how British sailor Lewis Bennett (left) deliberately opened escape hatches and damaged the hull of a catamaran he and his wife Isabella Hellman (right) were sailing on in May 2017, in a plot to kill her
Escape hatches located at the bottom of the couple’s catamaran were found wide open in pictures taken by the U.S. Coast Guard after the vessel sunk
The same vessel view above water shows the escape hatches wide open when they should have been closed
After the two went out sailing, the vessel then sank and Bennett made an SOS call saying the boat called Surf into Summer was sinking and his wife was missing.
He claimed the ship struck an unknown object while he was in a cabin inside the vessel. When he came up he did not see Hellman and the ship was taking on water.
He was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard between Cuba and the Bahamas and was found on a life raft stuffed with his luggage, stolen silver coins, and provisions.
Hellman’s body was never found and Bennett claimed he had no idea what happened to her and suspected she was swept off the ship and into the sea when it submerged.
The photos prosecutors have unveiled include Bennett’s sunken damaged 37-foot catamaran and photos of the life raft he was rescued on.
An ajar escape hatch on the vessel is pictured on the left after the ship sunk
A giant hole is pictured on the side of the catamaran the couple were traveling in when Isabella Hellman drowned in May 2017
The Coast Guard pictured above finding the vessel (underwater on the right) Bennett allegedly deliberately sunk in a bid to kill his new wife to inherit her estate
This photo shows the sunken ship called Surf into Summer after it submerged in May 2017
According to FBI, the ship’s portholes below the waterline of the vessel had been opened and the damage on the ship was inflicted from the inside.
After returning to the U.S. Bennett immediately took the couple’s toddler daughter Emilia to the U.K. where his family lives, refusing to let Hellman’s family see the child.
He hails from Poole, Dorset.
Then he filed a motion with Florida courts asking for his wife to be declared dead and possession of the Delray Beach apartment in her name be given to him. A judge rejected the motion.
Prosecutor Kurt Lunkenheimer has asked a judge to go above the sentencing guidelines of 41 months for Bennett.
‘The fact that the Defendant would pack all of these items into a life raft, but not actively and diligently look for his wife’ was one of the reasons the prosecution sought an eight-year prison sentence for Bennett.
The couple were on their honeymoon in May 2017 when Bennett allegedly deliberately sunk the catamaran they were sailing on. He was later rescued by the Coast Guard when he was found on a life raft. Hellman’s body was never found
After the incident he went to Florida to ask courts to declare Colombia-born Hellman as dead so he could inherit her estate, which a judge declined to do
The two shared a young daughter named Emilia together. After Hellman was never found he took their daughter to the UK
Bennett was at first charged with second-degree murder.
That charge was then whittled to involuntary manslaughter in a guilty plea deal, which carries a maximum sentence of eight years.
Bennett pleaded guilty after investigators determined he intentionally sunk the vessel after they found evidence of holes made intentionally from inside the boat.
Bennett’s sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday January 29 in Miami.
Before her murder, things were becoming rocky fo the couple.
Text messages from the Colombian-born Hellman said she noticed a change in Bennett’s behavior after their daughter Emilia was born in 2016 and he became very angry with her.
Prosecutors claim the couple’s ‘marital strife’ was a motive for the alleged murder.
‘Hellman’s murder would remove the marital strife from the defendant’s life, allow the defendant to live his life as he pleased, and would enable him to inherit money from Hellman’s estate,’ a prosecutor previously said.