India tourist murder suspects acquitted

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on December 20, 2011

Six men that were accused of killing a tourist from Cheltenham in 2006 were today acquitted.

Mr Stephen Bennett, aged 40 at the time of his death, was making his way from Goa to Mumbai as he holidayed in India. He was found in the jungle and had been hanged.

Prosecutors initially alleged that he attempted to attack a woman before villagers in Malsai, Maharashtra, killed him. The prosecution’s main witness suspiciously retracted his statement at the trial at India’s High Court in India.

The suspects, who all hail from Malsai, which is around 120km south east from Mumbai, all entered not guilty pleas. According to sources, the judge’s full reasoning will be published tomorrow. In the new year, the prosecution will most likely appeal against the verdict.

Throughout the ordeal, Mr Bennett’s family always challenged the version of events that the prosecution gave. His mother said in a statement that the verdict wasn’t at all surprising and highlighted the fact that all of the villagers that were accused have repeatedly insisted that they hadn’t seen Mr Bennett before in their lives.

Mrs Bennett added that it has now been proved that her son was never on a train and also that he didn’t wander into a village before getting lynched in an awful ‘honour killing’ that sent shockwaves back to the UK.

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