Honeymoons are supposed to be about celebrating a commitment of love and a new life. Not for this woman though, who was tragically killed by her husband. Florida prosecutors are seeking the maximum sentence for a British man purposely sunk his yacht to murder his wife.
The British man admitted to intentionally sinking his catamaran in waters near Cay Sal in 2017. The man, Lewis Bennett, is now facing a sentence of over 41 months in prison in the death of his wife, Isabella Hellman.
Prosecutors showed photo evidence that the damage was intentional. The ship’s hull damage was all inflicted from inside the boat, and the portholes below the waterline were all opened.
Bennett originally claimed the ship struck an unknown object when he was sleeping. He said he awoke to find his wife missing and the 37-foot catamaran taking on water.
The United States Coast Guard rescued Bennett from a life raft where he had loaded a suitcase and two backpacks. They noted he only took one backpack with him when he was pulled from the raft by Coast Guard swimmers. The raft was later recovered and taken to Key West. Also recovered in the raft was a suitcase, a backpack, unexpended parachute flares, buoys, 14 gallons of water, a second emergency position homing device, and nine plastic tubes with 225 stole coins. This level of preparedness was suspicious compared to his story.
A four-day search was conducted to locate Hellman but was eventually called off. Her body was never recovered.
Upon returning t Florida, Bennett moved the couple’s young daughter back to the UK and blocked Hellman’s family from seeing her. He also filed a motion in Florida to have his wife legally declared dead so that he could take possession of their Delray Beach apartment. A judge later rejected this request.
Text messages from Hellman indicate that she noticed a change in Bennett after their daughter was born in 2016 and that he became increasingly angry with her. Prosecutors say “marital strife” was the motivation for the murder.
Bennett was originally charged with second-degree murder and it was expected that the defense would claim Hellman’s death was an accident. Bennett recently pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 8 years. His sentencing is scheduled today in Miami.