Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Sunday, 29 November 2009

Pirates jailed for yacht murder

Malcolm and Linda Robertson
Linda and Malcolm Robertson were sailing near the island of Koh Dong

Three Burmese teenagers have been jailed for murdering a yachtsman from East Sussex off the coast of Thailand.

Malcolm Robertson, 64, of Hastings, was bludgeoned and thrown overboard off the Andaman coast after the pirates boarded his vessel, the Mr Bean, in March.

His wife Linda, who was left fearing for her life as they kept her tied up for about 10 hours before they fled the yacht, welcomed the prison sentences.

She said she hoped the pirates would reflect on their "heinous" crime.

The Foreign Office said the killers were sentenced by a Thai court on Thursday.

They were named in reports from Thailand as Eksian Warapon, 19, an 18-year-old known as Aow, and a 17-year-old boy, known as Ko.

I do hope the time they spend in jail will help them reflect and realise the heinous crime they committed
Linda Robertson

The men, who had pleaded guilty, were each sentenced to 25 years in prison at Satun Provincial Court.

The boy, who was convicted of murder, was jailed until he reaches the age of 24.

"I don't want to trivialise Malcolm's death but I don't think 25 years in a Thai prison is going to be pleasant for them," said Mrs Robertson, 59.

"I do hope the time they spend in jail will help them reflect and realise the heinous crime they committed.

"I also believe they were victims themselves.

"I don't think they had any plan. The fact that they didn't kill me, which they could quite easily have done, shows some compassion from them."

Local reports said the killers had been stranded on an island after jumping from a Thai fishing ship.

Found on raft

After finding the island had little food and water, they murdered Mr Robertson when they boarded his anchored 44ft yacht.

The vessel was named after the Mr Bean chain of coffee shops he ran.

They ate the couple's food supplies and fled the boat but were later arrested on a raft about half a mile from the couple's vessel.

The couple had Map of Thailand
The couple had been sailing 45 miles west of Satun

Mrs Robertson escaped with minor injuries but detailed her ordeal during 10 hours of testimony in Satun, describing how the attackers tied her hands and feet and how she heard her husband tell them: "Get off my boat."

Thai fishermen found the body of Mr Robertson 10 nautical miles north of Satun's Lipeh Island a week after the attack.

He was semi-retired and had passed the running of his chain of coffee shops in East Sussex to his children.

He was fulfilling a lifelong dream of spending winter months sailing around warmer climes with his wife.

The couple, both qualified yacht masters who had sailed around the world, had been married for 25 years and had four children and seven grandchildren.

More than 150 mourners gathered at Mr Robertson's funeral service at St John the Evangelist Church near their home in St Leonards-on-Sea where it was said he "chased his dream" of world adventure.

An inquest into Mr Robertson's death is due to be held in Hastings on 9 December.

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