Southern end of St Lucia a 'dodgy' place


Following the murder of yachtsman Roger Pratt and the attack on his 60-year-old wife Margaret, industry sources have told YM that the southern end of the Caribbean island of St Lucia is a ‘dangerous’ location frequented by violent drug gangs.

As loved ones waited for the result of a post-mortem on Mr Pratt,62, who was on a circumnavigation to celebrate his wife’s birthday, one source told YM that: ‘In nine months of sailing around the Caribbean the bottom end of St Lucia was our least favourite place.’

The source, who did not wish to be named as he and his wife have business links to the area, said: ‘It’s always intimidating, a real dodgy place. When I walked through there with my partner: groups of men would shout out in the middle of the street: ” I love you I want to f*** you”, in broad daylight.’

And according to the Caribbean Safety and Security Net, which monitors crime throughout the islands,there have been two other crimes committed against yachtsmen in the last month in St Lucia.

The first took place off Soufriere Bat Caves while the crew of four were asleep. The cabin doors were forced open and cellphones and cash were stolen. The second just two weeks ago in the same location when a skipper was woken up at night as a thief tried to break in but who fled when confronted with a winch handle.

And last August a yacht was broken into while anchored in the same location as murder victim Mr Pratt’s yacht. This time a computer, binoculars a watch and a bag were stolen.

Mr and Mrs Pratt, a semi-retired and childless couple, from Moreton Morrell, Warwickshire had taken 23 days to make the 3,000 mile Atlantic crossing from Lanzarote to Martinique in their £200,000, 41ft steel, centre-cockpit cutter, Magnetic Attraction.

The attack happened as they lay off Vieux Fort awaiting customs clearance. An armed gang came aboard and Mr Pratt was reportedly stabbed to death as he went to protect his wife. Mrs Pratt was treated in hospital for minor injuries.

The couple, both Cruising Association members, had set off from Lowestoft, Suffolk last July on their dream voyage. Despite expressing fears of being targeted by criminals, the Pratts felt that St Lucia was bound to be safe considering it is the arrival port for the annual Atlantic Rally for Cruisers fleet. But then Rodney Bay where the ARC makes landfall is a salubrious location unlike the gritty commercial port of Vieux Fort, which is both poor and has suffered from flooding in recent weeks.

CA Vice President, Judith Grimwade said: ‘It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Roger Pratt. Our local representative in St Lucia has offered to give all possible support and assistance. ‘Such incidents as this are, thankfully, rare which makes them all the more shocking when they occur. On behalf of the members of the CA, condolences have been sent to Margaret.’

The CA’s local representative in St Lucia, Bob Hathaway, said: ‘The entire yachting and tourism sector is working hard both to support Margaret Pratt and to ensure that the perpretrators are brought to book. ‘Roger and Margaret were customers of ours for a few days in the New Year and by all accounts enjoyed their time in Marigot Bay. I have already made the offer to look after the yacht should Margaret decide to leave it in St Lucia and return to the UK.’

Pic: BBC