US Honeymoon Killer flies out of Australia

November 25, 2010 12:00 am

, MELBOURNE, Nov 25 – An American dubbed the "Honeymoon Killer" over his wife\’s death on a diving trip flew out of Australia Thursday for the United States, where he may face further charges, officials said.

Bubble-wrap salesman David "Gabe" Watson, who served 18 months in jail for manslaughter, left Melbourne shortly after noon (0100 GMT) under police escort after deciding not to challenge a deportation order.

Watson\’s departure comes after the United States assured Australia that the 33-year-old would not face the death penalty if convicted in his home country.

"The Australian government received assurances from the United States government that… the death penalty would not be sought, imposed or carried out in relation to this crime," Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said in a statement.

Honeymooner Christina Watson, 26, drowned at the Great Barrier Reef in October 2003 after her husband of 11 days, an experienced rescue diver, failed to inflate her buoyancy vest or remove weights to bring her to the surface.

In mid-2008, coroner David Glasgow found it was likely Watson killed his wife by holding her underwater and turning off her air supply, adding that he may have been seeking a life insurance payout.

Watson, who had left Australia and remarried but voluntarily returned for his trial, was sentenced to four and a half years in June 2009, but all but 12 months of that sentence was suspended under a plea bargain.

Australian authorities quickly appealed the "manifestly inadequate" term, extending it to 18 months. Watson completed the sentence on November 11 but was handed straight into immigration custody to await deportation.

Legal officials in Watson\’s home state of Alabama have expressed disappointment at the sentence he served in Australia and threatened to lay murder and kidnapping charges.


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