the dark side of life in St Lucia

the dark side of life in St Lucia

Yet nearly every year, a tourist or expatriate is also caught up in the violence. As well as the deaths of Hathaway and Pratt, a British businessman named Oliver Gobat was shot to death in April 2014. The 38 year-old’s body was found in his burnt-out Range Rover on a remote track near his family’s luxury hotel. His murder remains unsolved.   

Hathaway was twice married. Estranged from his 23-year-old wife, Macarena James, his body was found in the home he was sharing with two younger women, who he had described as his “bisexual flatmates”. He was a devoted resident of the island and deeply committed to boosting its tourism industry.  But he was not naive about the dangers in St Lucia. He served as chair of visitor’s safety committee of the St Lucian Hotel and Tourism Association and helped compile reports about safety on the island.  

When I Interviewed him back in 2014, he stressed that it wasn’t worth the risk trying to fend off a robber. “Unless you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger, if someone wants your stuff you let them take it. You don’t try to fight back,” he said. 

The Foreign Office’s travel advice for St Lucia states that “most visits are trouble-free, but there have been incidents of crime including murder, armed robbery and sexual assault.”

The St Lucian government is acutely aware that the highly publicised deaths of foreigners are a danger to the tourism industry which makes up more than 15 per cent of the economy, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. 

Every day during the peak season, cruise ships pull in to dock in Castries, the St Lucian capital. The stacked decks of the sea liners are taller than most of the buildings in the city and the pounds and dollars spent by tourists are a lifeblood for the island.    

Officials insist that these murders are isolated incidents and that tourists are safe during visits. The St Lucian high commission in London did not respond to repeated requests for comment in the wake of Hathaway’s murder.     

Despite the government’s promises, law enforcement remains chaotic on the island. The police admitted in December that they had missed their targets for fighting crime in 2018 and had solved less than half of recent murders.    

But it is the the backlog for dealing with serious crimes in the courts which is almost beyond belief. In most murder cases, victims and families are waiting years to see justice done, while defendants languish in overcrowded prisons waiting for their day in court. 

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