Among Bennett's possessions in the life raft was $US5, o00 in gold and silver coins, which were later found to be stolen from a vessel on which Bennett worked in 2016. According to court documents, Bennett was sentenced Tuesday to seven months in federal prison for transporting stolen gold and silver coins. Bennett told investigators his wife was at the helm as he slept when he heard a thud and the vessel began to sink.
"The opening of both escape hatches is unexplainable as an accident and defies prudent seamanship", a US Coast Guard Academy associate professor of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering told investigators.
When asked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation what he did to find Hellman, Bennett "indicated he did not do anything" like call out for her or use flares to illuminate the water, the affidavit says. "Rather, it appears the vessel was intentionally scuttled".
According to the charging document, a Coast Guard expert found the couple's vessel appeared to have suffered intentional damage in both hulls that was not the result of a collision and came "from inside the vessel".
The documentation suggests the FBI's suspicions were raised after Bennett requested a "letter of presumed death" within 24 hours of his wife's disappearance.
Hellman was a naturalized United States citizen, court documents show.
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Authorities say Bennett told them when he went above deck, he could not find his wife so he abandoned his sinking boat.
Bennett has asked a Florida probate court to declare his wife deceased.
Instead, he used a satellite phone to call one of wife's sisters, leaving her a voicemail informing her of Hellman's disappearance, the complaint said.
"Bennett then made telephonic contact with USCG while awaiting his rescue", Kelley noted in the complaint.
Last year Bennett claimed 617 collectable coins had been stolen from a sailing vessel named the Kitty R in St Maarten, which he had been working on. Now 18 months old, the little girl is at the center of a custody dispute between Bennet, who has dual Australian and British citizenship, and Hellmann's surviving family, who live in Florida. "Lewis knows that Isabella's mother was very much involved in caring for Emilia from the time of her birth here in Florida until she was lost at sea". He said, according to the complaint, that the catamaran's two escape hatch portholes were inexplicably opened and that holes seen in both hulls were nearly identical, according to the complaint.
"I can not think of any items that would accidentally cause similar holes in both hulls at roughly the same time".