Irishman to appeal verdict over ferry worker murder
Published 03/12/2012 | 05:00
AN Irishman will appeal against his conviction for murdering a ferry worker in Tenerife, his lawyer has said.
Keith Burke (21) faces at least 15 years in prison after being found guilty on Friday of stabbing Abraham Baez (24) in the neck with a kitchen knife during a street brawl.
His lawyer said the "devastated" Dubliner maintains his innocence and will appeal.
Mr Baez died from massive blood loss after being knifed during a 6am fight in Playa de las Americas on April 30, 2010.
A jury unanimously found Burke guilty of murder.
Yesterday, his lawyer Avelino Miguez pointed out none of the witnesses to the fight saw his client carrying a knife or stabbing Mr Baez. Police found no traces of the Spaniard's blood on Burke's clothes, even though doctors said he would have lost at least half a litre of blood per minute after his carotid artery was severed by the knife.
Crucially, the jury accepted prosecution claims Burke hid the knife in the palm of his hand, with the blade protruding between his fingers, as he attacked Mr Baez.
That allowed them to convict the Irishman of murder rather than the lesser charge of manslaughter.
But a pathologist told the court the wound to Mr Baez's neck was caused by the knife being held in a normal, downward, stabbing motion.
Mr Miguez said: "We will appeal against the conviction."
The lawyer also hopes to employ a little-used law to have his client sentenced as a minor, even though he was 18 at the time of the killing.
Burke's family fear for his safety at the prison in Tenerife where he is being held. During the one-week trial, his lawyer complained to the court after people in the public gallery were seen making a throat-slitting gesture at the defendant.
A family friend said: "We're terrified what might happen to Keith while he's in prison."
His then girlfriend Sara Stuart (30), also from Dublin, was found guilty of wounding the dead man's girlfriend, Laura Negrin, during the same fight.
She is expected to get a suspended sentence after being cleared of the more serious charge of wounding her with a rock.
Outside court, Mr Baez's family said they were satisfied justice had been done.
Mother Maria Teresa said: "Nothing will bring my beautiful son Abraham back, but we came here to see justice and justice has been done."