Man Gets 8 Years in Prison in Wife's Disappearance at Sea - NBC Southern California
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Man Gets 8 Years in Prison in Wife's Disappearance at Sea

Isabella Hellman went missing as the couple sailed off the Bahamas in May 2017

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    A man whose wife disappeared while they honeymooned at sea was sentenced by a federal judge to eight years in prison.

    Lewis Bennett, 42, apologized to the family of Isabella Hellman during a Tuesday hearing before U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno in Miami.

    Defense attorneys sought a 7-year sentence, a year lower than the maximum number spelled out in a plea agreement on an involuntary manslaughter charge reached last November.

    "It's not because I expect that he will commit this crime again," Judge Moreno said. "Sentencing is for punishment."

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    Before Moreno announced his decision, Bennett, a dual citizen of Australia and the United Kingdom, asked the judge that he let him get out of prison sooner so he could continue to raise the couple's daughter, who was an infant when the mother vanished. Emelia Bennet turns 3 in July and is being raised by his family in Scotland.

    "If you may permit me to be with my daughter as soon as possible," Bennett said. "I want to bring her up in a manner that is respectful to my wife's wishes."

    But Moreno sided with prosecutors and chose eight years in prison as the sentence and three years on supervised release.

    Hellman disappeared as the couple sailed off the Bahamas in May 2017. Her husband insisted he left Hellman on deck when he went to the boat's cabin to sleep. He said he woke up when the craft hit something, and Hellman was missing.

    The FBI says the catamaran's portholes were opened and the hull damaged from the inside.

    Assistant U.S. attorney Kurt Lunkenheimer said on Tuesday that Bennett "did not search for her diligently enough despite him being an experienced sailor."

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    The defense attorney declined to comment, but an attorney for Hellman's family said her relatives were satisfied with the judge's decisions and were excited they would soon be able to visit Emelia in Scotland.

    "There's nothing more that can or could be done to bring Isabella back," said Mitchell Kitroser, a lawyer who spoke on behalf of the Hellman's family and said they were planning a visit in June. Emelia "lost her mom but that doesn't mean that she has lost her mom's family."

    "It's just a tragedy all the way around," he said.

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