Machete Couple Speak Out- Mail on Sunday Newspaper- Exclusive News Feature- ***January 2011***

Peter and Murium Green contacted our publicist Jonathan Hartley earlier this year after they found themselves at the centre of the media after a horrific machete attack on the holiday island of Tobago.

Jonathan helped them deal with the media and set up a number of deals for the couple.

In their latest article the Greens have told how they have had no help since their ordeal and have had to deal with death threats from Tobago.

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We were virtually hacked to death with a machete in Tobago... but all the authorities did was to ask us to tell the world about their 'fantastic' island

It was a conversation that, even now, Peter and Murium Green find difficult to believe ever actually took place.

Farid Hinds, a minister for tourism on the Caribbean island of Tobago, had turned up at their home in Somerset bearing gifts an ornament featuring a miniature steel drum and a brightly patterned sarong.

The couple invited Mr Hinds in and, in return, they were asked to return to Tobago to take part in its annual carnival. 

Scarred for life: Peter and Murium Green outside their home in Wellington, Somerset

Scarred for life: Peter and Murium Green outside their home in Wellington, Somerset

It's a proposal that they admit they would find funny were it not for the horrific ordeal that prompted it. For just a few months earlier, the Greens had been brutally attacked with a machete at their villa on the island and left close to death.

'He wanted us to sit on a float and tell everybody what a fantastic country Tobago is,' says Murium, shaking her head in disbelief.

Her husband adds: 'We'd seen no sign of any compensation or even respect from officials in Tobago now it seemed all they cared about was trying to get us onside to save the reputation of their country from all the bad publicity surrounding what happened to us.

'Like idiots, we posed for photographs with their ridiculous gifts, because our injuries were still so bad at that stage that we didn't have the energy to refuse.

'But the idea that we would take part in a carnival to celebrate Tobago after what we'd been through? We still can't take it in.'

Indeed, the couple still bear the scars both physical and mental of the machete attack that almost killed them.

As they dozed in the sun on August 1, 2009, a man strolled into their garden and, seemingly without reason, started hacking at their bodies. The senseless and sickening nature of the assault made headlines around the world, but in its aftermath, as Peter and Murium began the slow journey to recovery from their terrible injuries, they leapt to defend Tobago. 

Bed-ridden: Peter pictured with Murium at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, where re recuperated on his return from Tobago

Bed-ridden: Peter pictured with Murium at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, where re recuperated on his return from Tobago

Fearful of the damage their story would do to tourism and the local economy, they spoke of the wonderful people on the island and the idyllic lifestyle they had enjoyed prior to the attack.

Now, though, they want to tell a very different story. Their subsequent treatment by the Tobagan authorities has convinced them that the island is far from the paradise they initially believed it to be.

Instead, they believe their quest to discover why they were targeted is being hindered by officials who they suspect want their case and all the negative attention it has brought to go away.

'We want to tell the truth about what happened now in the hope that it puts British people off going there,' says Peter.

'It's the only weapon we have.'

When Peter and Murium first bought their holiday home in Tobago eight years ago, they were running a hotel in Wellington, Somerset. Their plan was to retire as soon as they could and spend much of their time in Tobago.

'We had enjoyed a lovely holiday on the island and at the airport on the way home we met another British couple who told us they lived in Tobago, which gave us the idea to buy a place of our own,' says Murium, 61.

'Initially, we bought some land and started laying foundations, but then we heard about a lovely four-bedroom beachside villa in Bacolet which we could afford, so we stopped the building work and bought the villa instead.

'At first, we were still running our hotel, but we would go to Tobago two or three times a year. Then, after we retired in 2006, we would go there for longer periods.

'We absolutely loved it. The beach just outside our house, Minister Bay, is like something from a Bounty advert stunning golden sands lined with palm trees. A lot of the locals were very welcoming and we made good friends.' 

Dream home: The couple's house in Bacolet, Tobago

Dream home: The couple's house in Bacolet, Tobago

But the truth is that Peter and Murium had already begun to worry about Tobago's rising crime rate long before they were attacked.

'The longer we were there, the more of the other side of Tobago we saw,' says Peter, 66.

'We knew women who had been raped and other people who had been violently attacked.

'We were robbed four times and we had to install heavy bars across the windows at our villa. I saw for myself the corruption that is part of everyday life when I had a car accident. It wasn't my fault, but I was asked to pay a fine of 5,000 local dollars [about 500] and saw a policeman share it out among his colleagues in front of me.

'This year, there have been more than 400 murders there. It's not safe.'

Even so, the attack against them was unimaginable. It was only due to a cruel twist of fate that the couple were in Tobago at all. Peter had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and had decided on the spur of the moment to take a two-week break before starting radiation treatment.

'Talking about it is still very hard,' he says.

'We had both nodded off in the heat and I was woken by the most tremendous pain in my head. I thought something had dropped out of the sky and hit me.'

Unknown to the couple, an assailant had crept into their garden carrying a foot-long machete. It is believed Peter was struck first, and suffered four or five punishing blows. The tip of the blade cracked open his skull, he was cut across the nose, and smashed so hard in the face, probably with the butt of the machete, that his cheekbones were fractured and he lost several teeth. 

Immediately afterwards, Murium endured her own assault. With one savage strike, the attacker smashed both cheekbones and eye-sockets. Her jaw was also detached.

Living in paradise: Peter and Murium Green at their house in Bacolet, Tobago, before the attack

Living in paradise: Peter and Murium Green at their house in Bacolet, Tobago, before the attack

'I remember seeing all this blood, and when I looked at Peter, I could see how awful his injuries were,' she recalls.

'Somehow, I crawled out of the house and on to the road. I couldn't call out for help because of my injuries I was holding my face together with my hands.

'I remember that it was so hot out in the sun. I saw cars go past with the windows wound down and cameras pointing at me. I can understand they didn't want to get involved, but how could they take photos? 'The last thing I remember is my neighbour screaming. She called for help for us.'

Murium was admitted to Mount Hope Hospital on the neighbouring island of Trinidad for several days, and underwent operations to rebuild her shattered face. Her husband spent the next two weeks in the same hospital in a medically induced coma to help reduce the swelling on his brain, but he was not expected to survive.

'The doctors told our son Martin to come and say goodbye to me,' says Peter, struggling to keep his emotions in check.

When it was deemed safe, Murium was flown home to continue her treatment, which meant that she was forced to leave behind her still critically ill husband.

'That was one of the worst aspects of the whole thing,' she says.

Peter's sister Anne flew in from her home in Canada to be at his bedside, and what she witnessed horrified her.

'I've never spoken about this before, because I didn't want to cause any further trouble for Trinidad and Tobago, but I found some of my treatment in the hospital appalling,' says Peter.

'The doctors did all they could for me but one nurse would whisper to me that I was a "white bastard" and that I would be "punished" at night.

'On one occasion, my sister saw a nurse washing my open wounds with a cloth which she had previously used to wash my bottom. When my sister complained, the nurses refused to let her in to see me for an entire day.

'The truth is, there are some Tobagans who hate foreigners and aren't afraid to show it. The entire time I was in hospital, I was terrified. When I finally flew home after three weeks, I'll never forget the relief I felt.'

Once back in Britain, Peter and Murium concentrated on trying to get better. Due to his head injuries, Peter spent a month at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton learning how to walk again, and then underwent seven weeks of radiation treatment for his cancer, which is now in remission.

But it is the only piece of good news the couple have received lately. Peter still has no feeling in the left side of his body and needs Murium's help with basic tasks. He now has to wear hearing aids and, because he suffers double vision in his left eye, he requires glasses with one cloudy lens.

'I used to be fit and healthy but I'll never be the man I was,' he says.

'I was never a good-looking man but I had clear blue eyes, and now one of them is just a mass of scars.' 

Retirement heaven: Peter and Murium Green sitting on the patio of their Caribbean home

Retirement heaven: Peter and Murium Green sitting on the patio of their Caribbean home

Murium, too, still suffers. Much of her face is constructed from metal plates and she has difficulty eating. 'I see my scars every morning when I look in the mirror and I curse the man who did this to hell.'

Immediately after the attack, Orville London, the chief secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly, the local government body responsible for Tobago within the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, visited Murium in hospital. Mr London, the most powerful politician in Tobago, promised her that they would receive the compensation due to any victim of violent crime there.

However, despite repeatedly calling and emailing the Ministry for Tourism, which was supposed to oversee their application, the couple have received nothing.

'We keep being told that because of elections in Tobago, there is nobody in the ministry yet to process our application,' says Peter.

'But the elections were held in May.

'We're not poor we worked hard and saved for our retirement. But we've had to spend a lot of money on our rehabilitation. We're entitled to nothing from the British Government because the attack happened abroad, but we feel very upset and disappointed that we've had nothing from Tobago. It feels as if they don't care.'

Clint Alexis, a petty criminal with a history of mental illness from a small village called Argyle in eastern Tobago, is due to stand trial for the attack. But the Greens believe the Tobagan police are not attempting to get to the bottom of what really happened.

Peter says: 'During our time in Tobago, we fired someone who worked for us because we suspected that person had been stealing from us. But prior to that, we had made arrangements to leave the villa to that person after we died.

'We're not poor we worked hard and saved for our retirement. But we've had to spend a lot of money on our rehabilitation. We're entitled to nothing from the British Government because the attack happened abroad, but we feel very upset and disappointed that we've had nothing from Tobago. It feels as if they don't care.'

'Obviously we changed those arrangements, and they found out and were angry. We told the police, who interviewed the person but didn't take it any further.

A British friend who is a policeman said he would have pursued that line a lot more strongly.

'We've been warned that the police out there often frame people if they want crimes solved and out of the way. Certainly the locals don't believe Clint Alexis is responsible 300 people rioted outside the court the last time he appeared.

'But they seem to blame us, which is very frightening as we have to go back there for a hearing on January 11.

'It's not uncommon for witnesses to be murdered in Tobago. Someone who was at a meeting of the Tobago House of Assembly told me that our case was discussed shortly after the attack, when it was unclear if we would recover, and an official said, "The best thing that could happen is that the Greens will die".

'So we don't know if the police will protect us while we are out there.'

In November last year, a German engineer called Peter Taut, who lived a couple of houses away from the Greens, was murdered and his body was found in a shallow grave in his own garden. The couple wonder if the attacks could be linked.

'What happened to Peter was very strange. He was trying to sell his house so he could move back to Germany,' says Peter Green.

'He told another neighbour of ours that a man had knocked on his door and offered him a lot more money than the asking price, so he agreed. Then he was killed.

'When his body was found, the police arrested four people two men and two women who were living in Peter's house. The deeds on the property had been changed to their names.

'Prior to his death, Peter had also been caught up in some trouble with the police. He gave a lift home to a young woman who worked in a hotel nearby, and she complained that he had assaulted her.

'We wonder if he was deliberately targeted as a result of that, and if our attack was a case of mistaken identity.'

Through contacts living in Tobago, the couple have since learned that many violent crimes on the island are linked to property.

'We've heard criminals pay local land registry officials to change property deeds into their name. Then they kill the genuine owners and inherit the house,' says Peter.

'We were involved in a dispute over the land we bought before buying our villa. We had arranged to sell it but then the man we had originally bought it from claimed there was a clause in our contract stating that only he could buy it back from us. There was no such clause, but it stopped the sale going through.'

The case against Clint Alexis has been adjourned over and over again, and little news has been relayed to Murium and Peter.

When Peter recently called the police sergeant in charge of the investigation to enquire about a new date for the trial, the officer told him he did not know. It's just another of the frustrations the couple have endured since returning to their home in Wellington.

Shortly after the attack, the couple discovered their villa had been broken into. The burglar tore out the plumbing and stole everything valuable from the couple's video camera and sound system to clothing and jewellery.

The Greens are now in the process of arranging for a builder to repair the damage so they can sell the home they once considered a haven.

'I just want this nightmare to be over so we can get on with the rest of our lives,' says Murium.

But for her husband, it will not truly be over until he finally gets some answers to their questions.

'We just want to know the truth after what we've been through, we deserve it,' he says.

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