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Saturday 22 July 2017

Family of shot tourist prepare to bring home his remains

Michael McHale

THE body of an Irish man murdered in a bar in Spain last week is to return to Ireland in the coming days.

Forty-one-year-old plasterer John 0'Neill was shot while on holidays in the resort of Benalmadena, in the south of Spain, in the early hours of last Wednesday.

At lunchtime yesterday, a judge overseeing the murder investigation from a court in Torremolinos granted permission to Mr O'Neill's family to bring his body back to the family hometown in Coolock, north Dublin.

Now it is up to the family to make the appropriate travel arrangements before the body can come back to Ireland. A family representative last night said the decision brought "some closure" as they tried to deal with their loss.

"In the Spanish judicial system, it's not unusual for a body in this situation to be held for up to six months.

"I know the Minister for Foreign Affairs and lots of diplomats have been busy making formal approaches on the matter."

Tourist

Since the incident, Mr O'Neill's girlfriend Maxine and their two children -- Jake (3) and nine-month-old Jasmine -- have remained at the Costa del Sol tourist spot where they were holidaying at the time. His sister Sharon has since joined them there, while parents Hugh and Angela O'Neill and brother David remain in the family's Bunratty Drive home.

Mr O'Neill had flown with friends and family to the resort where one of his best friends was due to get married. He was in Coco's bar when a row broke out after an Englishman began banging on the door of a locked cubicle in the men's toilet.

After Mr O'Neill tried to calm the situation down, the man was thrown out of the bar, but returned at 3am with a .38 calibre pistol and opened fire.

One of five shots fatally injured Mr O'Neill. He staggered onto the street but collapsed. Paramedics were unable to revive him.

On Thursday, the presiding judge in the case ordered an arrest warrant for the prime suspect in the murder, Liverpool man Darren O'Flaherty (35).

Spanish police believe he was living with his girlfriend in a rented apartment in the area. They found bloodstained clothes after searching the flat.

Mr O'Flaherty has been on the run from British authorities since 2008, when he was charged by Yorkshire police with kidnapping and robbery offences but absconded before trial.

Irish Independent

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