Sunday, 17 May 2015

Murder in Venezuela

This country in South America is notorious for one reason; it is on the route used by cocaine smugglers.  Yet it has notoriety not generally known about.   It has been labelled as having the fifth highest murder rate in the world, with it`s capital Caracas said to have the third highest murder rate.  The country is said to average 70 murders a day, and around 25,000 murders in 2013.  But on the brutal side, around 85% of all homicides go unsolved.  This case features a British man Henry Berry, who along with his wife,Monica Spear, were murdered by one of the many gangs that proliferate the roads in the countryside.  The Berry family had lived in Venezuela for thirty years, the father being a professor of maths at a University.  In 2000, Henry was shot and wounded in a carjacking, and left the country for some years, but returned in 2006.  Two years later, he married Monica, who was a Miss Venezuela.  They had a daughter but four years later, they separated but remained close friends. It was in January 2014 that Monica returned to Venezuela from her home in Miami, with their daughter, to have a tour of the country.  Trouble struck on a motorway between Puerto Cabello and Valencia, when their car tyres blew.  They had hit a trap set up by gangs to stop vehicles and rob the occupants.

    Henry Berry, 39, managed to spot a recovery truck and flagged it down.  The car was winced onto the truck when suddenly, a group of people arrived from nowhere.  A number of men and one woman.  The Berry family quickly got into their car on the truck and locked all the doors.  The truck driver and his associate ran, managing to get to a telephone.  But the gang surrounded the truck and opened fire, riddling the car with bullets, killing Henry and Monica. The daughter was grazed by a bullet.  When Police arrived, the child was taken to hospital, where all the grandparents were now heading.  The murders of a British citizen and a top beauty queen sparked big headlines and pressure on the Police.  Within days, seven people had been arrested.  The woman had Monica`s camera - damning evidence.  Later that year, in September 2014, a man of 19, received 26 years, two others aged 18 & 21 both received 24 years.  Seven other suspects were awaiting trial.  With so much unsolved homicide in the country, killing uncooperative victims meant nothing.  Horrific.