Wednesday 19 December 2018

Man who shot innocent dad in Spain convicted of murder

Darren O’Flaherty (pictured) shot John O’Neill at a Spanish bar
Darren O’Flaherty (pictured) shot John O’Neill at a Spanish bar

A British dad-of-five has been convicted of murdering Dublin plasterer John O'Neill after a petty row at a Costa del Sol bar.

A Spanish jury found Darren O'Flaherty (42) guilty by a unanimous 9-0 verdict after a four-day trial at a court in Malaga.

He was also convicted of attempting to murder bar manager James Walsh and owning the unlicensed gun used on July 28, 2010, at Coco's Bar in the holiday resort of Benalmadena.

The jurors cleared O'Flaherty, from Liverpool, of the attempted murder of a second bar worker.


O'Flaherty, who was on the run from British police when he shot 40-year-old dad-of-two Mr O'Neill dead, is now facing a lengthy jail sentence.

Prosecutors called on Judge Julio Ruiz to jail O'Flaherty for 17 years for Mr O'Neill's murder, 12 years for the attempted murder and a year-and-a-half for the weapons conviction. The sentence is expected to be delivered within the next fortnight.

The British man learned his fate through a translator and looked briefly at relatives in the courtroom, including his parents, before hanging his head.

His lawyer, Cristina Carrillo, said afterwards she would appeal.

Mr O'Neill, from Coolock, north Dublin, was on his first foreign holiday with his family - partner Maxine Sutcliffe, son Jake, then three, and daughter Jasmine, then nine months.

He collapsed and died at a bus stop 50 yards from the bar after suffering a fatal wound to his stomach.

O'Flaherty was extradited to Spain in February 2015 to await trial.

Jurors were told on the first day of the trial that he was living under a false name when he killed Mr O'Neill, but the charge of using fake documentation to rent his Costa del Sol flat was withdrawn.

O'Flaherty also faces having to compensate the partner and two children of his victim with up to €250,000.

His defence lawyers had argued Mr O'Neill's death was a simple homicide, punishable by 10 to 15 years in prison, and not a murder under Spanish law.

However, jurors decided he had given his victim no chance of defending himself in the "surprise attack", making his crime murder in Spain.

O'Flaherty returned to the bar with a .38 revolver and targeted drinkers after being kicked out for an unprovoked attack on a friend of the slain Irishman, who had been using a toilet he was trying to get into.

His defence lawyers said he was drunk and high on drugs the night of the murder, and suffered from mental health problems that reduced his criminal responsibility.

However, jurors said there was "no evidence" for those claims and rejected them.

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