A British tourist was shot dead in front of his younger brother as he bravely stood up to armed robbers who stormed their paradise island hotel.
Firefighter Tom Ossel, 28, was visiting Margarita Island in Venezuela with his younger brother Jack, 21, when four gunmen burst into their guest house.
They grabbed guests as hostages as they shouted ‘Dollar, dollar, dollar’ in Spanish and went from room to room looking for victims.
Tom courageously tackled them as they entered his room but was shot in the jaw and bled to death within minutes.
His brother was stabbed but survived the attack in July 2011.
An inquest heard how the gunmen tricked their way into the hotel by picking up prostitutes, knowing the owner hired rooms out for a short time.
Coroner Tom Osborne said: “Thomas was travelling with his brother Jack.
“They were staying in a guest house on 18 July 2011 when four gunman rang the bell asking to be let in.
“They took guests hostage and shots were fired. A shot fatally wounded Thomas.
“Thomas was quite clearly an innocent victim in this robbery.”
The coroner, sitting in Ampthill, Beds., added: “The gunmen picked up prostitutes on the beach and took them to the hotel.
“Many of these women are involved with gangs and provide information on victims.”
Three men arrested in connection with the killing are in custody and currently awaiting trial.
Tom was from Cople, nr Bedford and the son of self-employed building contractor Ben Ossel and magazine picture researcher Annabelle.
Shortly before his death he wrote on his My Space page: “Love to travel…have been to nearly 40 countries now..would love to make it 100 one day.”
Margarita Island is popular with tourists with 2.5 million visitors a year despite Venezuela’s high murder rate.
Verdict – unlawful killing.
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