Family's search for truth over yachtsman's death

A SUFFOLK man's family are desperately seeking answers after his body was found on a yacht marooned in the Caribbean.

Colin Adwent

By COLIN ADWENT

Crime correspondent>

A SUFFOLK man's family are desperately seeking answers after his body was found on a yacht marooned in the Caribbean.

The corpse of Graham Carter, of Felixstowe, was discovered on the deck of his �75,000 yacht Boon, which was beached on a reef in Venezuelan waters.

The 68-year-old had set sail from Port of Spain in Trinidad a few days earlier.

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His closest relatives believe it is likely he was murdered - possibly by pirates - although the authorities in South America have said his death was due to a heart attack.

For 15 months Mr Carter's family have been trying to find out the truth and asking for a proper death certificate so his affairs can be put in order.

However, since being told Mr Carter's body was found on his ransacked boat on June 6 last year, they feel their quest has been met by a wall of silence.

Despite this, Mr Carter's 69-year-old twin sister, Julie, and her husband Edward Carter , of Pettistree, near Woodbridge, remain determined to find out what happened.

Mr Carter, 70, said: “Graham had pre-booked a flight back on June 6 to see his sister who is seriously ill.

“I think he was killed. They found his boat drifting off the coast of Venezuela and it had been ransacked. Graham's body was found on the deck.

“When you think it was his home, he had all sorts of communication and hi-tech equipment on it.

“If he died of a heart attack, why was all the equipment ripped out of the boat?”

“The ironic thing is that he had not got his full sail set. It all seems a bit funny to me. We have been told he's been buried in Caracas.”

Mr Carter said his brother-in-law, who previously worked in Felixstowe for shipping agents Johnson Stevens, was an enthusiastic sailor and had also helped to deliver boats all over the world.

When Graham retired he left for the Caribbean to spend his time on his yacht.

Mr Carter, whose wife has a brain tumour, said: “It was his life. He just lived on board. That was his home. He sailed the Caribbean. That's what he did.

“Graham wouldn't have gone out sailing if he felt something was wrong. He was a very experienced sailor and such a competent sailor.

“I have been speaking to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a year. I'm not talking about two or three weeks.

“I have been with my wife waiting for news, but no one will say anything. Let Graham rest in peace and then my wife can rest in peace. Every morning she will ask me 'have you heard about Graham?'.”

Although Graham Carter's death is not in Suffolk Police's jurisdiction, a spokeswoman for the force said it had been trying to help the family.

She said: “We have been, and are, continuing to try and assist the family in their enquiries to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We sympathise with the family in these very difficult circumstances. Under Venezuelan legislation, as in many other countries, a named death certificate cannot be produced until formal identification is made.

“We appreciate the confirmation of the identity of someone who has died in some cases can be a lengthy process and is distressing for family members.

“Although we are unable to intervene in the legal process of issuing a death certificate, we are actively working to speed up the process by facilitating contact between the UK police and local authorities.”

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