Exmouth holidaymakers' lives 'changed forever' after attack

AN EXMOUTH couple whose holiday of a lifetime was ruined by machete-wielding bandits have spoken about how their lives have changed forever following their ordeal. David and Christine Smith, of Caroline Close, were attacked and robbed by a group of thugs

AN EXMOUTH couple whose holiday of a lifetime was ruined by machete-wielding bandits have spoken about how their lives have changed forever following their ordeal.

David and Christine Smith, of Caroline Close, were attacked and robbed by a group of thugs during what was meant to be a three week holiday in Kenya last January to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary.

Since the couple's account was reported exclusively in the Journal last month, they have suffered another blow, by the tour operators reiterating they accept no responsibility for the incident.

The distraught pair have been attempting to put their experience behind them and continue with their lives but keep suffering flashbacks and struggle to sleep.

Mr Smith, 45, said: "I went away for the first time (since the Kenyan holiday) last weekend. Someone walked down the corridor outside the hotel room where I was staying.

"You are conscious of the door moving and someone coming in. The thing I keep having flashbacks on is being frozen with fear, stuck in a cave where we managed to escape to."

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Mr and Mrs Smith were staying at a resort called the Cove Retreat, close to Mombasa.

In the ninth day of their trip, a group of bandits broke into their tree house accommodation in the early hours of the morning.

The couple were forced out of their beds and pinned, while they were naked, against a wall as the men, armed with crowbars and machetes, demanded cash and stripped the room of belongings.

They managed to flee the scene and found a cave on the beach where they stayed until daylight.

Mr Smith said their ordeal had an indelible effect on them psychologically.

"Last night Christine woke me up in the morning and said she could hear some noise coming from downstairs. It turned out to be just a tap dripping.

"That is the sort of thing that goes on in your mind."

Mr Smith said they had been continuing to liaise with the tour operator, Somak Holidays, over gaining a full refund for the holiday.

The operator, who have scooped a number of awards for its tours to Africa, have offered the couple �2290 for the unused part of their trip.

"The company just don't want to know and have washed their hands of it," said Mr Smith.

"I reckon the whole of the leisure industry, as in the tourist traders, are just not owing up to their responsibility.

"How can somebody pay a lot of money to go on holiday and nobody is accountable - bearing in mind that we were beaten up and robbed of more-a-less everything."

Sanjay Sofat, operations director for Somak Holidays, said the Cove Retreat opened on June 15, 2006, and during this period no other guests were robbed or attacked.

He added: "Whilst we have every sympathy for the understandable implications of the robbery, we cannot accept that Somak Holidays have failed to act responsibly in these circumstances and as such we are therefore not in a position to offer anything further to you.

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