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Sunday 18 August 2019

Family tells of heartbreak after stabbing death of dad on holiday

John Pender (inset) died following an attack in Spain
John Pender (inset) died following an attack in Spain
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

The family of an Irish father of two who died after being attacked with broken bottles while on holiday in Spain have said they are heartbroken over his death.

John Pender (53), from Shankill, Dublin, was stabbed to death in the early hours of Friday morning in the Pógs Old Irish Rock pub in Fuengirola, Spain.

A 49-year-old English man who was arrested at the scene has been remanded in custody by Spanish police in relation to Mr Pender's death.

Mr Pender, a charity worker and acupuncturist who worked at a Dublin suicide charity, was attacked in the toilets of the pub. The surprise attack is understood to have taken place after Mr Pender politely asked the English man to stop bothering his wife and his friend's partner.

In a death notice on, his family said: "He will be sadly missed by his loving and heartbroken wife, children, Dad, brother Stephen and sister Christine, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and a large circle of friends."

The notice adds the family man, originally from Deansgrange, Dublin, died tragically and suddenly while on holiday. It adds that he was the "beloved husband of Caroline McGuigan, and loving dad of Conor and Amy, son of Sean and the late Bernadette".

Leigh Anthony Gardiner (centre) allegedly attacked John Pender in the toilets of an Irish pub in Spain. Photo:
Leigh Anthony Gardiner (centre) allegedly attacked John Pender in the toilets of an Irish pub in Spain. Photo:

Funeral arrangements are being finalised and are due to be announced in a couple of days.

The Suicide or Survive charity Mr Pender worked with for several years said in a statement: "The Board of Suicide or Survive, its management and staff, and its close-knit family of supporters deeply regret the loss of their beautiful friend and colleague, John Pender, husband of our founder and CEO Caroline McGuigan.

"John's sudden and tragic death has shocked us all and the loss of his huge presence leaves an immense void in our lives.

"We extend our love and support to Caroline, Conor and Amy and the extended family, as they seek to come to terms with this devastating news. Ar dheis De go raibh a ainm."

It came after an English chef appeared in court in Spain after being arrested on suspicion of murdering Mr Pender in the Costa del Sol pub.

Leigh Anthony Gardiner (49) was in court in the resort of Fuengirola where he was remanded in custody pending an ongoing criminal investigation.

Mr Gardiner, who lives in Mijas, was arrested after allegedly attacking Mr Pender with two broken bottles while he was using the toilet at the pub.

Police said Mr Pender was attacked after politely asking the suspect to stop bothering his wife and the partner of a friend.

Sources said witnesses told the police Mr Pender was targeted with two broken beer bottles in the toilets. Police who were passing by the pub tried to save the his life but he bled to death in front of them.

Mr Pender was on holiday with wife Caroline and their two children, who were not in the pub.

A source said the suspect had no criminal record in Spain and was a chef at a well-known Costa del Sol hotel resort and was on his own because his wife and children had gone on a foreign holiday.

"National Police officers have arrested a 49-year-old British man in Malaga in the early hours of this morning over his suspected involvement in the death of an Irishman at a pub in the town," a police spokesman said. "The victim received cuts to his neck and other parts of his body with a broken beer bottle. The incident occurred around 1.50am in the toilets of the Irish pub.

"According to initial inquiries, the suspect took an interest in several women inside the pub, including the partner of the victim. At one point the man who was killed spoke to the suspect. The victim was allegedly attacked by surprise in the men's toilets.

"The suspect tried to flee the scene afterwards but was stopped from doing so by security staff and subsequently arrested by police in the area."

Irish Independent

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