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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Pair to hang for newsreader's death
Lynette Lithgow used to work in Nottingham
Two men, including a relative of the victims, have been sentenced to death in Trinidad for murdering an ex-BBC newsreader and two family members.

Lynette Lithgow Pearson, 51, her mother Maggie Lee, 83, and brother-in-law John Cropper, 59, were killed in a robbery in 2001.

The murders happened after a family tea party in Trinidad.

Daniel Agard, 21 - Mrs Lee's great-grandson - was sentenced to be hanged, along with Lester Pitman, 26.

Mrs Pearson, who used the name Lynette Lithgow professionally and had been living in France, was in her native Trinidad working on a book project when she was killed.

Throats slit

Her mother Mrs Lee, who had been living in Toronto, had joined her there for a holiday.

Mr Cropper lived in Trinidad and headed the Cropper Foundation, which sponsored workshops for young writers.

His wife Angela, a British-born agricultural consultant, was away on business when the triple murder took place.

The bodies of the victims were found by a maid in the bathroom of the Croppers' house in Port of Spain with their hands bound and throats cut.

Family valuables including gold jewellery, television sets, a laptop computer and a car had been taken.

Police later found a fingerprint on a jewellery box in the house which matched Agard's. Jurors were also shown CCTV footage of him withdrawing money from the Croppers' bank account in the days after the murders.

A neighbour testified that she had seen Pitman outside the house on the evening of the killings.

Gallows

A jury took an hour to convict the pair, with the death sentence pronounced shortly afterwards.

It came seven days after the London-based Privy Council reversed its 2003 ruling that Trinidad's mandatory death sentence for murder was unconstitutional.

The Privy Council serves as the final court of appeal for Trinidad and other former British colonies in the Caribbean.

Death sentences are always carried out by hanging in Trinidad, although no-one has been executed since 1999.

The Privy Council has blocked several executions in recent years, before finding last week that mandatory death sentences did not violate the country's constitution.



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