Death could have been following Stephen Bennett from the idyllic surf and sands of Goa, according to recent reports in the British press.
The parents of Stephen Bennett, who was killed in a village near Roha in Raigad district (about 80 km from Mumbai), were quoted as saying that they had received a series of frantic telephone calls from him days before his body was found about how he was being intimidated by some local people at Baga beach in Goa. During his last call on December 7, just four days before his body was found, Stephen claimed he was being followed by two men while trying to escape to Mumbai, his parents were quoted as saying.
According to the local police, the 40-year-old was strangulated and hanged from a mango tree on December 10, because villagers mistakenly believed that he was trying to molest a local woman.
But his parents — father Carol, a retired insurance expert and retired lecturer, and mother Maureen, a business consultant — refused to believe this. They reportedly expressed doubts over local police investigations into their son’s death, the British press has reported.
The mother listed a series of inconsistencies in the police account and believed that her son — a father of two — was abducted. About the molestation theory, she said: “This story is too far-fetched.” Bennett lives in Leckhampton, a suburb of Cheltenham.
She believed that someone took her son to that village. “Why would he get off a train in the middle of the night in a place he did not know and walk seven km through the jungle to knock on a stranger’s door?”
She also said her son had been suffering from a bad back and it would have been impossible for him to walk so far. She believed he had been picked up by somebody and said Stephen was too trusting.
She has conveyed her feelings to the British consular officials in India. But while HT contacted them on their telephones and left messages, the family was yet to come back with a confirmation.
Meanwhile, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK only said the investigation was “ongoing” and they were liasing with the authorities in Mumbai.
British High Commission officials in Mumbai would only say, “Investigations are on. The law will take its course."