Family say couple's 'murder' in Jamaica is 'stuff of nightmares'

Grandparents Charlie and Gayle Anderson were found dead at their property in Portland on June 22 2018 Credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The family of a British couple "brutally murdered" at their home in Jamaica just months after losing thousands of pounds to a suspected fraudster have described their deaths as "the stuff of nightmares".

Halford and Florence Anderson, also known as Charlie and Gayle, were found dead at their property in Portland on June 22 2018, a year after they retired to the Caribbean island from their home in Manchester.

The couple's sons, Mark and Glen, said the family believe their murders are linked to the fraudulent activity, which saw around £100,000 taken from their bank accounts, and are "completely devastated and frustrated" at the deaths and the lack of progress in the investigation in Jamaica.

Coroner Nigel Meadows concluded that Mr and Mrs Anderson were unlawfully killed at an inquest at Manchester Coroner's Court on Tuesday.

The hearing, which was held by video and audio link, heard that the couple sold their house in Gorton, and moved to Jamaica in June 2017, to live in a house they had built there.

Mark Anderson told the inquest in a statement that they put the proceeds from the house sale into a bank account and would have been able to live "very comfortably" in Jamaica but, in April 2018, Mrs Anderson told the family that all her money had disappeared.

He said the couple returned to the UK to meet with the bank and flew back to Jamaica at the beginning of June, apparently satisfied that the bank could refund at least some of the money.

But on June 22, the couple were discovered dead at their home, which Jamaican police said had been set on fire by a petrol bomb thrown through a window.

Mr Meadows told the inquest that 74-year-old Mr Anderson was found 40 metres away from his home, naked and partially burnt, with "horrific" head injuries and what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his hand.

The coroner said Mrs Anderson, 71, was found about 20 feet from her house, on her back with a gunshot wound to her face, which had passed through her neck.

She had also suffered burns.

In a letter to the British High Commission, Jamaican police said a trail of blood led from the property, which was charred inside.

The inquest heard that a man, who was hired to do odd jobs for the Andersons, had since been charged with fraud but no-one had been charged with the murders.

Mark Anderson told the hearing: "We are no further forward in finding out what has happened and are completely devastated and frustrated."

He and his brother Glen said it was "clear" to the family that the murders were a result of their mother reporting the fraudulent activity on their bank accounts to the police.

Following the inquest, a family representative read out the following statement: "Receiving the news that a parent has died is devastating but to be told that both of your parents have been found brutally murdered is the stuff of nightmares."

They continued: "We are really hoping that now the coroner has recorded a verdict of unlawful death there will be some progress.

"We want those in Jamaica to know that we don't give up.

"We want someone charged with murder."

Mr Meadows offered the family his "sincere condolences" and said he had also suffered frustration at trying to obtain information from the Jamaican authorities.

Shane Smith, of law firm Slater and Gordon, said delays in the criminal investigation had caused "considerable distress" to the family and they would help the family to get "the answers they deserve".