Saturday 18 November 2017

UK criminal extradited to Spain to face charges over Irish dad's killing

Darren O'Flaherty is a suspect in the killing of Dubliner John O'Neill
Darren O'Flaherty is a suspect in the killing of Dubliner John O'Neill
John O'Neill with his then partner Maxine

A criminal has been extradited to Spain to face charges over the killing of innocent Dublin dad-of-two John 'Jock' O'Neill on the Costa del Sol.

Liverpool man Darren O'Flaherty (41) was flown to Malaga after serving a 30-month jail sentence in England for his role in the aggravated hijacking of a truck where €544,000 worth of electrical goods were stolen at knife-point.


Mr O'Neill, from Coolock, was shot dead in front of his partner Maxine Sutcliffe in a bar in the resort of Benalmadena while on holiday in July 2010 after attempting to act as a peacemaker in a row that had broken out.

It is believed an argument started in the toilets of Coco's pub when a British man began banging on the door of a locked cubicle.

The situation spiralled when the man confronted a group of holidaymakers from Dublin.

Mr O'Neill, who was among a group of around 30 people who were in the Spanish coastal town to attend a friend's wedding, attempted to defuse the situation.

The man was subsequently thrown out of the bar by security staff who warned him that "there's 30 of them and one of you, so do yourself a favour".

He returned later that night armed with a .38-calibre revolver and indiscriminately began shooting, hitting Mr O'Neill three times in the back and stomach as children and adults ran for cover.

The victim staggered from the bar and collapsed at a bus stop 50 yards away.

His distraught partner, Maxine, suffered a panic attack as she watched paramedics battle in vain to save him.


Police later searched O'Flaherty's apartment and found bloodstained clothes.

A judge issued the European arrest warrant for O'Flaherty the day after the fatal shooting but he had fled. He was tracked down by British authorities more than three years later.

He was caught by armed police in a north Wales restaurant in August 2013 as he celebrated his birthday.

He was arrested by officers attached to the Fugitives Unit of the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency, and was subsequently jailed for his part in the 2006 aggravated hijacking of a Heavy Goods Vehicle near Leeds.

Upon completing his sentence, O'Flaherty was flown to Malaga where he is currently being held at a maximum-security jail in Alhaurin de la Torre.

A trial date is yet to be set.

John O'Neill worked as a plasterer and was well liked in the Coolock area where he played darts and was a pigeon enthusiast.

He was on his first foreign holiday with his family.

Mr O'Neill's aunt Peig Dowdall described her nephew after the killing as "a gorgeous, big soft guy, always with a smile on his face. He was just in the wrong place."

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