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1973: British officials shot dead in Bermuda

The British governor and his assistant have been assassinated in Bermuda, a British-dependent territory in the North Atlantic.

Sir Richard Sharples and his aide-de-camp Captain Hugh Sayers, 26, were killed as they strolled in the grounds of the Government House on Saturday evening.

It was the night of the annual police ball and the governor's residence in Hamilton - the island's only town - was unguarded save for a lone guard.

He heard gun shots and ran to help but was too late.

In spite of road blocks set up immediately after the incident the killer escaped.

The deaths of the two men come six months to the day after the island's British police chief, George Duckett, was shot dead.

Mr Duckett's killer is still at large.

PM's friend

Sir Richard, 56, had been Commander-in-Chief of Bermuda since last October.

He was formerly a Conservative member of parliament in Britain and had held a number of government posts.

Sir Richard was a friend of Prime Minister Edward Heath - both shared a passion for sailing.

His two sons are currently unaware of the tragedy - they have been sailing around the world and are now believed to be en route for Bermuda.

Independence wishes

Bermuda has 54,000 inhabitants of whom roughly 60% are black.

It has been largely peaceful since outbursts of violence in 1968 and 1970.

The island, whose parliament is the second-oldest in the Commonwealth after Westminster, is currently governed by the United Bermuda Party.

However, in spite of its black leader, Sir Edward Richards, the party is seen by many as part of the white establishment.

Among black Bermudians at the bottom of the social pile there are still murmurs of discontent at the island's status as a British dependent territory.

They would like to emulate the Bahamas' decision and become fully independent from Britain.

In Context
A team of Scotland Yard detectives flew out to help in the murder hunt.

However, it was two years before a suspect was named as Bermudian Buck Burrow.

At the same time another black Bermudian, Larry Tacklyn, was arrested on suspicion of killing police chief George Duckett.

The two were said to be members of a group known as the Black Beret Cadres.

In April 1976 they were sentenced to death.

They were hanged the following year in spite of a mercy petition to the Queen signed by 6,000 Bermudians.

Their deaths sparked riots on the island.


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