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Thursday 2 October 2014

Ex-rugby player player dies in Ibiza after allegedly being beaten by police

Jack De Menzes

Published 04/09/2014 | 08:50

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Former Wigan Warriors player  Luke Rhoden
Former Wigan Warriors player Luke Rhoden
Spain, Balearic Islands, Ibiza, old town from harbour
Spain, Balearic Islands, Ibiza, old town from harbour

A former rugby league youth player has died in Ibiza after allegedly being beaten by police following a hotel incident.

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Luke Rhoden, 25, was attending a stag do with a group of friends when holidaymakers claimed the former Wigan Warriors player was behaving erratically just minutes before the incident and that he had leapt across [other reports say he fell from the balcony] a first-floor balcony at the Ibiza Rocks hotel.

The incident happened in Sant Antoni de Portmany late on Tuesday night.

Due to the disturbance, police were called to the scene. Other British tourists then claim that Rhoden attempted to run away from them before being beaten by five officers, who are said to have used their batons.

It then took 30 minutes for paramedics to arrive at the scene, where police are believed to have loaded him into an ambulance.

Wigan Today reported that a Civil Guard source had told a national newspaper: “He was a guest at the Ibiza Rocks Hotel.

“We were called at 10.30 when he jumped from a first-floor room and landed on a patio below.

“Our officers restrained him and put him in an ambulance but he died in the ambulance before it left the area of the hotel.

“The autopsy will establish the cause of death and whether drink and drugs were involved.”

Current Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane has admitted his devastation at hearing the news, and praised Rhoden as “a great lad” for their time together at the Super League club.

“I was absolutely devastated and saddened when news reached me. He was great lad,” said Wane.

George Stokes, a Super League referee, was also part of the group that was holidaying on the popular island, where conflicting reports have emerged since the incident.

Witnesses claim that a young man was battered and restrained by local police until paramedics arrived after half an hour, but a spokeswoman for the Ibiza Rocks hotel claimed there had been a “balcony incident” and that police were not involved.

John Morrison, 33, from Poole, claimed that his father had witnessed the assault and phoned his son in a frantic call.

Speaking to Wigan Today, Morrison – whose father wishes to remain anonymous – said: “He is still very shaken up.

“They are staying in an apartment pretty much opposite Ibiza Rocks – they’ve had quite the week. He heard police sirens underneath their balcony. He went out to the balcony and the police cars came round.

“He saw this guy backing out from the bar by Ibiza Rocks. He was backing off and there were a few police guys in front of him.

“He had gone to run away and that’s when they started giving him a real pasting with batons.

“There was four or five of them."

Attempts to revive him then took place for around 45 minutes.

The spokeswoman for the hotel added that the man was not killed “on impact” due to the balcony incident, and confirmed that the death did occur outside of the hotel.

“We can confirm there was a fatality in Ibiza last night and our sincerest and heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of the individual concerned at this very difficult time,” said the spokeswoman.

“We continue to assist the Spanish Police with their investigation and cannot make further comment about the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident until a full inquiry is complete.”

Rhoden came through the ranks at reigning champions Wigan alongside current England star Sam Tomkins, and Wane added that it has been difficult to come to terms with his death due to his likeable personality.

“It is very hard coming to terms with what’s happened because I spent a lot of time working and coaching Luke when he was a young player coming through,” Wane added.

“They were good times and Luke was so keen.

“I coached him at Wigan when he was in the junior ranks at 16s, 17s and 18s level.

“He was a good lad who would look after himself.

“I really feel for his family at this very sad time.”

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