THE family of a Colombian woman who was left to drown off the coast of the Bahamas are set to travel to Edinburgh to see their granddaughter for the first time since the incident.
Lewis Bennett faces an eight-year prison term after pleading guilty to the involuntary manslaughter of wife Isabella Hellmann after the couple’s catamaran sank in the Caribbean in May 2017.
Mr Bennett, originally from Poole, Dorset, initially sent an SOS message after the vessel reportedly capsized in May 2017.
The 41-year-old was later found floating on a liferaft with almost £30,000 worth of stolen gold coins by coastguard officials and arrested on a smuggling charge.
Prosecutors alleged he murdered Isabella to end his “marital strife” and inherit her apartment and wealth, but he later pled guilty to a charge of unlawful killing “without malice”.
But now, Mrs Hellman’s parents, Eduardo and Elizabeth Rodriguez, are to visit the Capital to see the couple’s daughter, Emelia, who lives with Bennett’s parents in Leith.
US District Judge Federico Moreno has postponed sentencing Bennett in Miami until May because he wants to see how the two families co-operate over access to the toddler.
Emelia was taken to the UK within days of the search for her mum being called off and the only contact she has had with Eduardo and Elizabeth has been through video calls.
The Rodriguez family lawyer, Mitchell Kitroser, told the Sunday Mail: “The person who has done nothing wrong here is Emelia. The judge deferred sentencing until the end of May because he wants to see some level of co-operation before then.”
“The family are hoping to get to Scotland in March. And they hope it will be the beginning of regular visits.”
Mr Kitroser added: “When Lewis was asked, he said in court he wanted Isabella”s family to have contact, so one of the reasons for the postponement is for that to happen.”
“Isabella’s family’s love for Emelia will outstrip the cost of having to travel Transatlantic.”
Bennett’s parents relocated to the Capital to be closer to their daughter, Claire. Mr Kitroser said it was likely Bennett would return to Scotland when he is released.
He said: “I would imagine he would be back. There’s nothing for him here.
“We’ve got two families who have all the reason in the world to distrust each other.
“But at this point, the concern is how are you going to get these families to co-operate.
“The right thing to do is to make sure when Emelia is old enough, she will see her dad standing up in court and taking responsibility and that he didn’t take her mother’s family away from her.”
Mr Bennett’s dad, Tom said: “We just want this to be over, although of course it will never be over really, not for Lewis and not for any of us.
“We’re looking after our granddaughter, or at least we’re sharing looking after her with our daughter. She’s too young to understand what is going on.”