Family of dead Brit found tied to sunken yacht off Crete ‘fear he was murdered’

The family of a British aristocrat found dead with one hand tied to his yacht fear he may have been murdered.

A fisherman found the body of former Navy officer Hugh Kerr Bradley Roberts, 74, on his sunken 30m (100ft) boat off the Greek island of Crete on Sunday morning.

Mr Roberts’ seven-year-old dog Friar Tuck survived and was found “whining” and “desperately trying to hold on to the wreckage” to avoid drowning in the port of Souda.

Known locally as an “eccentric rich man”, the retired Brit owned at least two properties in Crete and was living alone on the 100-year-old boat, called the Coral of Cowes, with his pet dog after his partner died from cancer three years ago, it is reported.

As police carry out an investigation into the death, Mr Roberts’ family said they fear he was murdered.

A post-mortem was due to be performed. Foul play has not been ruled out, according to the coastguard.

His dog has been taken to a local animal welfare society and it is hoped that it will be re-homed soon.

A police source added: “There may not have been marks or any bruising that would suggest struggle on his body but nothing can be ruled out.

“He may, for example, have been suffocated.

“We find it highly suspicious that such a large boat, a yacht that was 20 metres long, could sink in a matter of hours.”

The weather was clear at the time.

A police officer told the Guardian: “It’s a very strange case. We find it difficult to believe that a yacht that is 30 metres in length can sink easily.

“Our inquiry is obviously focused on the wreckage and whether there is any evidence to suggest it was deliberately submerged. It’s perplexing.”

Thrasymboulos Cheiloudakis, a professional diver who retrieved the Brit’s body, told Flashnews.gr that the man did not suffer any injuries, but one of his hands was entangled in a rope.

He said it is likely the boat had been in “good shape”, although it hadn’t been maintained “for a long time”.

The vessel had previously been up for sale for almost £1million.

There were claims to Flashnews that a man had been staying with him on the boat and he often had visitors.

Friends claim a house owned by Mr Roberts was broken into and ransacked just days before his death.

Another source claims a car he once owned was stolen before being used in a fatal crash in what they fear was a set-up.

The car was in the possession of the local police force when it was taken, the source claims.

The source also claims Mr Roberts had been involved in disputes on the island.

He was robbed onboard the same boat two years ago by assailants who left him tied to the vessel for days.

Mr Roberts is reported to have moved to Crete 12 years ago and built a luxury villa in the village of Ramni after living in Cornwall.

Friends have described him as an animal lover and antique gun collector. He is said to have had 12 cats and three dogs on a large estate he owned in the foothills on the island.

A Zarpa News report described the Brit as a widower who had been living on the boat alone with his dog since his wife’s death 10 years ago.

Another partner was reported to have died from cancer three years ago.

Efforts are now underway to find a new home for Mr Roberts’ dog.

The animal welfare society said on its Facebook page that the pet was found on the boat.

The posts reads: “The animal was whining and was desperately trying to hold on to the wreckage of the sailboat to avoid drowning.

“Unfortunately, the guardian of the dog, who is an English citizen, was found dead.

“Please anyone who can foster the dog temporarily, so that the police can look for the family of his unfortunate guardian.”

Efi Tsekmesoglou, who runs the society, told the Guardian: “He was on the bow of the yacht trying with all his little dog might not to drown.”

The animal was in a “state of shock”.

Mr Tsekmesoglou said the organisation has fielded calls from around the world from people wanting to adopt the dog.