Lara Jones, a 26-year-old British tourist who had flown to Cuba after reading travel guides touting “the lowest crime rate” in the Western Hemisphere and a “haven for female travelers,” was strangled to death in her Havana hotel room, a British coroner’s inquest has concluded.
The unnamed killer, a security guard who ambushed her from behind late one night, was apprehended 10 days after the killing. He was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
At the inquest, her father described her as “an experienced and careful traveler” who contacted her family every day by telephone, Skype or email.
''I always knew where she was and where she was going. Lara spoke excellent Spanish and was always sensitive to the social norms of the countries she visited always dressing in accordance with them,” he said.
She had planned to stay in a dormitory with others but received her own room because she was the only guest.
A maid and a worker at the convent-turned-hostel where she was staying found Laura’s body when she failed to show up for a day trip, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday
While violent crime against tourists in Cuba is relatively rare, there have been a number of incidents in recent years. In October 2005, an Israeli tourist was stabbed to death
after leaving his hotel in Havana, and in January 2010, another Israeli tourist was killed in a mugging
near his Havana hotel.
According to the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs
, reporting from U.S. citizens and other travelers indicates that the majority of crimes against foreign travelers “are non-violent and theft-related.”
It warns Americans to be wary of people posing as tour guides who are “professional criminals who resort to violence in their efforts’ to acquire tourists’ money and other valuables.”
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