UK & World News

  • 8 January 2014, 11:03

Former Miss Venezuela And Ex Killed In Robbery

Armed robbers have shot dead a former Miss Venezuela and her British ex-husband in front of their five-year-old daughter.

Monica Spear, 29, and Thomas Henry Berry, 39, were on holiday in Venezuela when the attack happened between Puerto Cabello and Valencia.

Their daughter Maya was shot in the leg during the attempted robbery. She survived and is recovering in hospital.

Authorities said police had arrested five suspects, some under the age of 18.

President Nicolas Maduro said the victims' car burst a tyre after running over something on the road, apparently placed by robbers to stop traffic.

He said a recovery truck arrived to help the family but its crew were chased away after they were ambushed by armed robbers.

"They were inside the car and were riddled (with bullets)," the president said on state TV.

"I ask those who assassinated this young person: what explanation do you have?"

Friends have left messages on Twitter. Venezuelan salsa singer Oscar D'Leon wrote: "I'm so sad for my Venezuela. My condolences for Monica Spear's family.

"Rage and impotence are what I feel right now."

The 2004 Miss Venezuela winner lived in the US but was on holiday at the time of the shooting.

Venezuela has one of the world's highest murder rates, with 79 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence.

Mr Maduro says beating violent crime is his top priority but opponents say the government's plans do not tackle root causes, such as impunity for criminals, corrupt courts and complicity by some poorly-paid police.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said he and Mr Maduro should leave their political differences to one side.

"We should unite to win the war against violence and insecurity. We're in an emergency ... this situation calls for all of us to take a look at ourselves as a country."

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