A British-Australian man who claimed his American wife was lost at sea when their sailing catamaran sank off the coast of Cuba has admitted to killing her. Lewis Bennett, facing a second-degree murder charge, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Miami on Monday, reports the BBC. Bennett, 41, had been sailing from Cuba to Delray Beach, Fla., with his wife of three months, Isabella Hellmann, when he sent out an SOS call on May 15, 2017. Bennett said he'd been awoken by a jolt of impact to find the boat taking on water and his wife missing. After he escaped on a life raft, however, authorities noted damage to the boat appeared to have been caused from the inside and portholes below the waterline had been opened. Text messages also revealed Hellmann was "afraid to get home," as her husband was "an angry person" who did not "respect her anymore," per the Sun.
Though the guilty plea means family members may never know how Hellmann died—a body wasn't found—"the US Attorney's Office and our law enforcement partners hope that the defendant's admission of guilt is a step toward justice for the victim," US Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan says, per ABC Australia. In a statement issued through a lawyer, however, Hellmann's family says "there is nothing that Lewis can do to ease the pain he has caused them by taking Isabella from them." Bennett, who would've inherited Hellmann's apartment and bank accounts, was discovered three hours after the SOS call on a life raft with various belongings, including a tea set and $40,000 in antique coins stolen from a yacht where he'd previously worked. Now serving seven months for transporting the coins, Bennett will face up to eight years in prison at his Jan. 10 sentencing. (Read more manslaughter stories.)