The family of a woman who was murdered while travelling in Cuba have said she will be ‘forever in their thoughts’.
Preston Coroner’s Court heard yesterday that Lara Jones, 26, from Goosnargh, near Preston, was killed by a hostel worker during a visit to Havana in March 2012.
Speaking after the inquest, her mum, Carolyn Jones, from Whittingham, near Preston, said: “The verdict was as expected and we thank the Cuban authorities whose investigation was immediate, professional and rigorous and which led to the defendant’s arrest within a few days.
“The unfathomable unfairness that Lara was given only 26 years of life is in no way mitigated by the knowledge that the defendant must spend the next 22 of his behind bars. Lara was not a vindictive person.
“Lara did everything possible to secure her own personal safety.
“She had researched the country on the UK Government website and in the travel guides which advised variously that, ‘Cuba has the lowest crime rate in the Western Hemisphere, no crime, a haven for female travellers’ and she had researched her accommodation, ‘good location, friendly staff, security guards’.
“Lara was in her room by 11pm that evening. She did everything right and she was in, what should have been, the safest place.
“What happened to Lara was totally random, unforeseeable and neither she nor anyone else could have done anything to prevent it.
Mrs Jones said her daughter “was special in so many ways”.
She said: “Lara had an instinctive understanding and empathy with people of all ages and from all backgrounds.
“She was a fiercely loyal and committed friend, a fact that has been reinforced by the many messages we have received from her friends from all around the world.
“All these messages have a common theme, Lara’s beautiful smile, her genuine concern and support and sensitivity, her boundless energy and positivity, the person who kept everyone motivated, the linchpin.
“As a daughter and youngest sister we all cherished Lara. Our family is incomplete without her. Our joyous occasions will be coloured by the sadness of not having Lara here to enjoy them with us.
“She is in our lives and thoughts every second of every minute of every day and she will be forever.
“Our love for Lara is without limits and we are so sorry that she has had her life taken from her.”