Spanish hunt man over Irish couple's deaths
Published 10/08/2011 | 05:00
SPANISH police have been ordered to arrest the suspected drink driver accused of killing an Irish couple in a collision.
A nationwide warrant has been issued for the arrest of Juan Ochoa after court workers spent months trying to track him down.
He is the suspect in a collision that killed daycare centre worker John O'Connell and his wife Mary, from Caherciveen, Co Kerry, three years ago.
The accident happened as the couple, who were celebrating their silver wedding anniversary, walked back from a pub in Orihuela Costa near Alicante. Mr Ochoa was allegedly over the drink-drive limit and doing three times the speed limit at the time.
But authorities have been unable to find him at any of the addresses he gave the court after being arrested.
The couple's family in Co Kerry last night said they were not being kept informed of developments by Spanish authorities.
"The only information we have is second-hand information that we usually read in the newspapers the following day," the couple's niece Yvonne told the Irish Independent.
Yesterday, a judge in charge of the case ordered Spanish police nationwide to detain him immediately if they find him.
A spokesman for the court in Orihuela said: "The court has issued an arrest warrant for the man accused of the manslaughter of the Irish couple.
"When the police find him, he will be transferred to the court, so he can be informed that the case is going to trial."
Mr Ochoa, who is believed to be Spanish, is facing four years in jail and a lengthy driving ban if convicted over the May 2008 crash.
State prosecutors also want the courts to make him pay the dead couple's relatives, including Mr O'Connell's mother Mary and the dead woman's siblings, nearly €80,000 in compensation. A date for his trial has not yet been set.
Mr and Mrs O'Connell, aged 46 and 45, were walking home from an Eileen Reed concert at the Paddy's Point bar in Orihuela Costa when the collision happened just after midnight on May 6, 2008.
Mr Ochoa failed a breath test at the scene. Officers said afterwards that his clothes smelled of alcohol, his face was pale and he kept on repeating himself.
Traffic officers concluded in a report that Mr Ochoa had been doing three times the speed limit when he slammed the brakes on his hire car in an attempt to avoid the O'Connells.