Wednesday 7 December 2016

Irish 'hitman' faces 25 years for Costa killing

Gerard Couzens in Malaga

Published 15/07/2011 | 05:00

A SUSPECTED Irish hitman is facing up to 25 years in prison after being found guilty of murdering a man after a pub row in Spain.

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Eric Wilson (27) was yesterday convicted of shooting dead a British expat who tried to stop him touching up a female friend at a packed Spanish bar.

Wilson, of Ballyfermot in Dublin, had claimed he was a victim of mistaken identity and had left Ireland after gambling problems for a peaceful new start abroad as a horse owner.

But the jury decided by a 8-1 majority verdict 21 hours after being sent out that he was guilty of killing Dan Smith (24) "in a premeditated fashion using extreme violence to increase his suffering".

Wilson, nicknamed 'Lucky' by pals, shook his head in disbelief as a court translator told him the verdict before being led away in handcuffs.

The victim's mother, Karen Wetherell broke down in tears at the back of the courtroom in Malaga, southern Spain at the end of yesterday's hearing.

Wilson, linked in the proceedings to several gangland murders in Ireland, is facing up to 25 years behind bars for the brutal killing on June 5, 2010. State prosecutors asked judge Maria Luisa de la Hera to jail Wilson for 23 years -- five more than at the start of the trial -- while a private prosecutor acting for Mr Smith's family demanded a 25-year jail term.

The judge is expected to deliver the sentence in the next fortnight. Wilson will appeal the conviction.

Assassin

Mr Smith, a roofer, died after being shot in the face and body with a 9mm pistol on the terrace of the Lounge Bar in Riviera del Sol near the resort of Fuengirola.

He had rowed with Wilson earlier after customer Georgina Hollywood accused the Irishman of touching her up.

Wilson raced home on his motorbike, grabbed the murder weapon from his rented home in Coin more than 20 miles away, and returned to kill his victim later that evening.

Mr Smith, who was wanted in the UK over a murder committed in 2007, was shot at least eight times. A protected witness identified Wilson as the assassin. Fake passports, the getaway motorbike and hand grenades, explosives and ammunition were discovered during a search of his home two days later. The murder weapon was never found.

Wilson was also told he faces being ordered to pay the mother of his victim between €100,000 and €300,000 in compensation.

Mr Smith's family left the court without making any comment. Family lawyer Carlos Comitre said afterwards: "The gaping wound Wilson caused will always be open but at least now Daniel's mum has some sort of closure and might be able to sleep at night without the help of tablets."

Wilson's defence lawyer Javier Mora announced he would appeal.

Irish Independent

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