The detailed story of an Exmouth couple's holiday from hell The detailed story of an Exmouth co

It was meant to be a once in a lifetime, romantic holiday, to celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary. The reality, however, was a terrifying contrast.

It was meant to be a once in a lifetime, romantic holiday, to celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary. The reality, however, was a terrifying contrast.

Journal reporter Graham Britton met up with David Smith and his wife Christine, to speak about the Exmouth couple's holiday from hell in which they were beaten and robbed.

I'M AN Exmouthian get me out of here!

These were the terrified, yet, in retrospect, comedic words 45-year-old David Smith nervously whispered to his wife as they hid in a cave after escaping from a group of African bandits who ruined their holiday.

Mr Smith and his wife, Christine, of Caroline Close, were asleep in their tree house accommodation at a Kenyan resort called the Cove Retreat, when four thugs, armed with crowbars and machetes burst into the room.

The couple were forced out of their beds and pinned naked against a wall as the men demanded cash and stripped the room of belongings.

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Mrs Smith, 46, said: "It was supposed to be the holiday of a lifetime and it turned into a holiday from hell."

The group stole a wedding ring from Mrs Smith which had been passed down from generations in her family.

They also took cash, cameras, photos, binoculars, torches, credit cards - anything they could lay their hands on of value.

Mr Smith, a 45-year-old safety manager and head coach of Exmouth Swimming Club, was hit on the head and arm by the thugs during the incident.

He said: "One of them started getting very angry with me and said 'I'm not going to kill you at the moment' but kept demanding 'give me your money', waving a machete around all the time.

"I said 'if you want us to give you some money, one, you have to let us get dressed and two, you have to put the light on'.

"They did that, thankfully. I then gave them some ready cash which was what I had in my pocket for tips."

Mr Smith said earlier that day they met a lady near the resort's pool who lived adjacent to the site. "In the last six months she had been burgled twice by armed men.

"She was worried stiff that one day tourists would be robbed and beaten instead of her because now she has put up bars, a security wall, barbed wire and employs an armed guard - it is a fortress.

"This particular hotel we were staying at had no walls, no lockable gate and the only guards we had were three local tribesman armed with spears and panic alarms."

Mr Smith said the guards were also attacked during the incident by additional members of the group.

"I said to them 'look, if you want more money, it's in the hotel safe,' knowing full well there wasn't a safe but we thought we had to get them out of the room.

"So we were forced down (out of the tree house) and Chris started to shout for help."

Mr Smith was then hit across the head with an iron bar and told 'shut your woman up.'

"We then ended up in a kitchen where we also became trapped. They were threatening to kill us again at this point.

"Chris asked me what I was going to do and I just said 'shut up, pray and look for an escape route.'

"I did have a little plan at the back of my mind. I saw a gas bottle and thought if it came to the crunch, I'm going to split the bottle and light its hose with some matches I also spotted."

Mr Smith then said to the men: "Look, we're Christians, leave us alone. And, believe it or not, the leader turned his back on me and took three steps away.

"I said to Chris, 'that's it, go now' and we legged it in the pitch black, across the restaurant and onto the beach. I hit something along the way, fell head over heels, and broke my toe.

"We saw this gully and an entrance to a cave which we both managed to climb in. I am very claustrophobic but we stayed in there until the next morning.

"When we came out, we were hailed as heroes by the locals because we stood up to these people."

Mrs Smith said one of the men was caught by a guard which wouldn't have happened if they hadn't held them up.

"We also found out the following morning that one of the guards had died following his injuries and another was shot."

The pair, who spent all the next day carrying out police statements, stayed in Kenya just three nights after the incident before deciding to return home after their anniversary trip was destroyed.

They said the incident has left them feeling like they never want to go on holiday again.

Following their ordeal, Mr and Mrs Smith have sought legal action against Somak Holidays, the tour operator responsible for organising their trip.

In a move which has angered the couple, Somak has offered compensation for the cost of the unused part of their holiday.

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