UK Gobat Inquest: More Bad Publicity For Saint Lucia?
This week Saint Lucia’s name was splattered all over the international media, even as the reaction to the prime minister’s address on the IMPACS report has hardly cooled down in the foreign press.
On Thursday, a number of newspapers in the UK were reporting that British hotelier Olllie Gobat who was shot dead in St Lucia ‘had received death threats over controversial £5.4m resort deal.’ The body of the 38-year-old was discovered in the passenger seat of his burnt SUV at Cap Estate back in April of 2014. He had been shot twice.
Ollie Gobat who was born in Saint Lucia was raised in Surrey, England. His murder has drawn the attention of British authorities as well as those in Australia where he had also resided.
An inquest being held in Working, Surrey, heard that Mr. Gobat was helping to organize the £5.4million ($8million) takeover of The Landings, a luxury beach resort here in St Lucia which had become insolvent. But a rival bidder organized a ‘smear campaign’ against him, and the 38-year-old had received death threats - which he hid from his family.
Mother Helen Gobat told the hearing: ‘He was the victim of a smear campaign. There was a blog set up called Pirates of the Caribbean. It was intended to damage his reputation. We subsequently learned he had received death threats.’
His brother Adam - who said Mr Gobat was a very likeable person - added: ‘It transpires that the person who was behind the smear campaign was a rival bidder to buy The Landings. That person is a UK citizen.’ The victim’s brother also revealed that after The Landings deal was completed following Mr Gobat’s death, another signatory to the consortium received a death threat.
Mrs. Gobat told the coroner her son, who had worked on St Lucia for 10 years before his death, had probably never expected anyone to kill him over his business dealings but admitted there was likely to have been ‘jealousy’ towards his success on the island. He’s a good looking, successful chap in St Lucia and it’s a small community so there’s a lot of jealousy that goes around. ‘There were competitors in property and I guess they didn’t want him to be any more successful by putting the deal together.
‘It was a case of thinking the unthinkable. Why would he think somebody would knock him off for putting through a legitimate business deal with legitimate business partners?’
Mrs. Gobat has also been very critical of the role of the police whom she said had made errors at the crime scene, including moving the Range Rover on the night her son was found dead and failing to cordon off the area.
Last year, the Gobat family offered a reward for information leading to the successful prosecution of person(s) involved in Ollie Gobat’s murder. They also offered to obtain modern forensic expertise to assist local police and has since employed a private investigator to look into the case.
Assistant Coroner for Surrey, Dr Karin Englehart, recorded a verdict of unlawful killing, saying the ‘manner and mechanism’ of Mr Gobat’s death were clear.
Dr Englehart said it was not her place to comment on the possible reasons for his murder.
She said: ‘The manner of Ollie’s death is a terrible, terrible tragedy that no family should have to endure. No-one should die in this way.
‘It had to be someone or some others, for whatever reason, and that is the purpose of other courts, a criminal court, to deal with.
‘The manner and mechanism of Ollie’s death must be unendurable for both Ollie’s parents, his brothers and friends and I offer my sincere condolences to you all.’
Helen and Theo Gobat with their legal representative Peter Foster (center) at a press conference here last