Boxing camp's tribute to businessman

A FORMER boxing champion has spoken of his admiration for the late Tony Fetherston and his concern at the delays in bringing the alleged killer to trial.

A FORMER boxing champion has spoken of his admiration for the late Tony Fetherston and his concern at the delays in bringing the alleged killer to trial.

Roy Gumbs, 49, was a British and Commonwealth middleweight champion in the early 1980's and he is now the national boxing coach on the Caribbean island of St Kitts.

Mr Gumbs is the owner of the Monkey Bar, Frigate Bay, where Mr Fetherston, his wife Margaret, daughter Alex and the British honorary consul Peter Allcorn used to meet regularly for early evening drinks.

On January 26, 2000, the Fetherstons, from Woodbridge, had had a drink at the Monkey Bar during their annual winter holiday at their bungalow on St Kitts. They returned to the bungalow at Basseterre and Mr Fetherston, 65, was killed at point-blank range by a robber in the grounds.

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Joseph Hazel, who denies murder, has spent two years in the island's prison awaiting trial. His court appearance has been postponed at least four times – the latest scheduled date was June 16 - and Mr Gumbs said this was bad news for the family and their friends.

"We used to have a lot of fun. This was Tony's spot and he was a lovely gentleman, a beautiful person, he was like an angel. When I heard about his death I said these guys could not have known him.

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"He had been at Monkey Bar that very day. Tony, man, it is hard to explain. He was such a person, he was royalty. He was tall, he had charisma and his wife, well they were both just like royalty.

"He used to roll up his sleeves and help with the building of boats on the island, perhaps four to six hours at a time. He was that sort of man," said Mr Gumbs.

The Fetherston's next door neighbour Susan had also been drinking at the Monkey Bar that day. She now lives in Frigate Bar where she serves at PJ's Bar and she said she was very disappointed at the lengthy time it was taking to bring the case before a judge and jury.

The high cost involved in bringing 10 witnesses from England, including seven forensic scientists, is one reason behind the delays and Susan said the Government on St Kitts should accept that they had to finance the 8,000-mile round trip for the witnesses to give evidence.

The death of the Frinton-born retired businessman shocked the ex-pat community among the 35,000 people on the West Indian island.

Garry Steckles, from north east England, owns Stone Walls restaurant in Basseterre where the wealthy couple sometimes dined.

Mr Steckles said: "The mood of the ex-pats was one of horror when it happened. A lot of people knew Mr Fetherston – I did not know him personally – and it shocked everybody. But I never saw any sign of the ex-pats being afraid.

"The director of tourism said this could have happened anywhere. St Kitts does not have a record of ex-pats coming to grief. It was an isolated issue – it could have been a local person in the house, it could have been anybody."

Mr Steckles, a former journalist, has lived in the Caribbean for 15 years and he admitted that the West Indian pace of life could be difficult for people in England to appreciate when such a high profile court case was involved.

"It takes a bit of getting used to – everything here is always about to happen. Things are slow, the judicial system is slow, everything is slow and in some ways that is part of the charm of the island and in some ways it is frustrating.

"The Brits are still coming here to retire and people from all over the world are doing what the Fetherston's did and staying here in the winter," said Mr Steckles.

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