Briton faces long sentence for murder of Irish holidaymaker

Plasterer John O’Neill (40) shot dead by fugitive while visiting Spain with young family

The remains of John O’Neill, who was killed in 2010 in the resort of Benalmadena. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

The remains of John O’Neill, who was killed in 2010 in the resort of Benalmadena. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

A British man has been convicted of murdering “gentle giant” Irish plasterer John O’Neill after a petty row at a bar in Spain.

On Friday, 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 in the July 28th, 2010 crime at Coco’s Bar in the holiday resort of Benalmadena.

The jurors cleared the father-of-five, from Liverpool, of the attempted murder of a second bar worker.

Fugitive

The British man, who was on the run from British police when he shot Mr O’Neill (40) dead following an assault on a friend of the Irishman’s, is now facing a lengthy jail sentence.

State 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 in writing within the next fortnight.

Mr O’Neill, from Coolock, north Dublin, was on his first foreign holiday with his family – partner Maxine Sutcliffe, son Jake (then 3) 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 held on a European arrest warrant while celebrating his birthday at a Chinese restaurant in north Wales in August 2013.

He was extradited to Spain in February 2015 to await trial after serving prison time in the UK for his role in a knifepoint hold-up.

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a false name when he killed Mr O’Neill, but the charge of using fake documentation to rent his Costa del Sol flat was withdrawn before they retired to consider their verdict.