FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.- Lewis Bennett has insisted he never knew what happened to his wife, who disappeared at sea last year during their sailing honeymoon. That is apparently about to change.
Court certificates filed Friday in Miami federal court mark Bennett, 41, has accepted a plea deal in the May 2017 disappearing of Isabella Hellmann, 41, who vanished as the Florida couple sailed off the Bahamas. The U.S. Attorney’s Office registered a brand-new declaration billing Bennett with involuntary manslaughter, saying he killed Hellmann “without malice, ” and descent second-degree carnage indictments. In turn, Bennett is now scheduled to change his not-guilty request at a Monday hearing. Such activity normally occurs when a plea transaction has been reached.
Prosecutors declined to comment Friday and Bennett’s public guard, Vanessa Chen, did not immediately return a call and email seeking commentary. Hellmann’s sister also declined to give an immediate comment.
Bennett, a mining designer with dual British and Australian citizenship, had told the FBI and British correspondents that he and Hellmann, a real estate agent, took their 37 -foot catamaran, Surf Into Summer, for a belated honeymoon Caribbean cruise after they had been married three months. They left their infant daughter, Emelia, with her family.
As the catamaran guided the Bahamas on the return to Florida, Bennett sent out an emergency radio signal. When the Coast Guard saw him on a life raft three hours later, he told rescuers he had left Hellmann on deck as he retired for the nighttime to their room. He said he was jolted awake when their aircraft thumped something. He said Hellmann was gone when he went outside and his attempts to find her failed. He said the catamaran was sinking, so he vacated it.
“I have got nothing to hide, ” he subsequently told The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, including Hellmann was “my soulmate.”
The Coast Guard spent seven days researching and experienced the catamaran, though it sank before it could be recovered. They did not find Hellmann.
Sixteen eras after the disappearance, Bennett went to the residence of Hellmann’s parents to get his daughter, a hot fit that ended with her sister accusing him of killing Hellmann, according to a Boca Raton police report. He took Emelia to United kingdom of great britain and northern ireland, where she was last reported lives with his relatives. Bennett saw Cuba, saying he hoped perhaps Hellmann had been rescued and taken there.
He soon filed a motion with the Florida courts asking that his wife be affirmed dead. That would have given him owned of the condominium and other items that belonged only to her. A adjudicator rejected it.
Investigators long disbelieved Bennett’s story. The FBI says an inspection of the catamaran before it sank pictured portholes below the waterline had been opened and damage to the twinned hulls appeared to have been caused from the inside. Also investigators obtained Bennett on the life raft with $100,000 value of silvers stolen from a ship he had worked aboard in 2016.
Bennett was detained last year on that accuse and pleaded guilty, get a seven-month sentence. While sufficing that sentence, he was charged in February with Hellmann’s death and has remained jailed.
He faces a possible eight-year convict on the involuntary manslaughter charge and deportation.
The Palm Beach Post first reported the filing of the new information.