independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Teen stabbed Spaniard to death after 10-hour drink binge, court told

AN Irish teenager stabbed a ferry worker to death in a drunken rage at a Tenerife holiday resort, a court has heard.

Keith Burke and girlfriend Sara Stuart attacked a Spanish couple in the street after a 10-hour alcohol binge, a jury was told.

Mr Burke, then aged 18, plunged a kitchen knife into Abraham Baez Rodriguez's neck, severing a major artery and causing him to bleed to death, prosecutors said.

Fellow Dubliner Ms Stuart beat Laura Negrin Garcia round the head with a large stone, knocking her unconscious, it was claimed.

State prosecutor Angel Garcia Rodriguez told the jury: "What started out as a simple argument ended with Abraham Baez dead with a knife in his neck and Laura Negrin injured by a stone."

The prosecutor claimed Mr Burke knifed 25-year-old Abraham "with the intention of ending his life", and said the Irishman should be jailed for 17 years for murder.

The Irish couple went on trial yesterday at the Provincial Court in Santa Cruz, the island's capital. Both wept during parts of the hearing.

They were returning to their apartment after a night out in the party resort of Playa de las Americas when the fight broke out at 6am on April 10, 2010.

Mr Burke had downed at least 10 drinks, including beer and vodka, while his girlfriend had drunk a bottle of wine, 10 vodkas, beer and shots.

The Spanish couple, who had been on a night out with friends, had drunk at least 10 whiskies each, the court heard.

The fight broke out outside the Hotel Tropical Playa when Ms Negrin opened a car door, accidentally banging it into Ms Stuart, the jury was told.

Prosecutors say there was a fist fight before Mr Burke went off to the couple's apartment, returning with a kitchen knife that had a four-inch blade.

Mr Baez collapsed in a pool of blood after being stabbed in the left side of his neck. The blow severed his carotid artery, and paramedics were unable to revive him.

Ms Negrin told the court she was knocked out by a blow to the head with a blunt weapon.

She added: "When I came around, Abraham was lying on the ground."

Mr Burke denied stabbing Mr Baez and told the court he had been attacked by the Spaniard.

He said: "I took a knife out with me because Playa de las Americas is a dangerous place.

"But that night it never left my pocket and I never stabbed anybody. I just remember being beaten around the back of the head. There was blood everywhere, dripping down my back."

Ms Stuart, a petite 31-year-old brunette, also claimed she had been attacked and denied striking Ms Negrin with a stone.

She told the court: "The girl opened the car door and knocked me onto the ground.

"She got out of the car and we fought. She hit me and I hit her back. But I didn't hit her with a stone."

The court was told Mr Burke wrote daily letters to Ms Stuart from his prison cell, occasionally confessing to the crime.

He wrote: "I killed him but only in self-defence" and "I will be sentenced to 15 years and, to be honest, I deserve it."

Mr Burke told the court he was lying in the letters to make Ms Stuart feel better, because he was in love with her. They have since split up.

Mr Burke has been on remand since the tragedy. State prosecutors originally charged Ms Stuart with murder but dropped that charge. They now want her jailed for three years for assaulting Ms Negrin.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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