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Caribbean shooting case delayed

PUBLISHED: 12:21 19 November 2001 | UPDATED: 15:21 03 March 2010

THE long-awaited preliminary hearing into the death of millionaire Tony Fetherston has been indefinitely delayed due to problems in bringing witnesses to the Caribbean island where he was shot.

THE long-awaited preliminary hearing into the death of millionaire Tony Fetherston has been indefinitely delayed due to problems in bringing witnesses to the Caribbean island where he was shot.

His widow Margaret has made herself available to fly to St Kitts at short notice to give evidence about the death of her husband in their holiday home almost two years ago.

It will be the first time Mrs Fetherston, who lives near Woodbridge, has seen the accused, Joseph Hazel, since he was charged with murder.

But it has been proving more difficult to co-ordinate the appearance of one or more forensic scientists for the court hearing.

The preliminary hearing was due to be held in October and three different dates for the courtroom appearance have passed without any progress being made.

The Foreign Office confirmed a new date for the hearing had not been set. The main trial is due to be held in early January and it is possible that could be delayed due to the inability to hold the preliminary hearing to assess the evidence.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "The hearing did not go ahead due to a key witness living overseas and not being able to attend. A new date has not been set and the family has been kept informed."

Frinton-born Mr Fetherston, 65, was shot at point-blank range one evening in January 2000 when he answered the door bell at the couple's bungalow on the outskirts of Basseterre, the island's capital.

Hazel was arrested in June this year after a lengthy investigation by forensic scientists in England, who studied a mask and saliva from suspects.

The endless waiting for developments in the long-running investigation has proved a strain for Mrs Fetherston and she said: "I know absolutely nothing and I await information with interest. I am just waiting and stirring the Foreign Office from time to time.

"I am now hoping the preliminary hearing will not be between now and Christmas because it is a very busy time. But if it is, I will drop everything and go."

The couple were annual visitors for many years to St Kitts and they struck up friendships with many people.

Mrs Fetherston said her friends on the island were unable to give any news on the investigation and added: "Everybody is being kept totally in the dark. They do not tell anybody anything."

The costs involved in conducting the lengthy inquiry could become a major factor in the holding of court hearings. To hold a preliminary hearing just a few weeks before the main trial would involve considerable expense for the authorities on St Kitts.

They would have to pay travel and accommodation for several people from England on two occasions and, therefore, a decision is expected on the necessity for staging two court hearings so close to each other.

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