I can't tell the kids that daddy was murdered

Niall O'Connor

THE heartbroken fiancee of a Dublin man gunned down in the Costa del Sol says she is "terrified" of telling her young children that how dad was murdered.

Innocent father-of-two John 'Jock' O'Neill from Coolock, was shot dead outside a bar in the popular resort of Benalmadena on July 28 last year, after trying to defuse a row involving a pal.

The suspect in the murder -- Liverpool man Darren O'Flaherty (36) -- is still on the run.

John's devastated partner, Maxine Sutcliffe (39), today speaks for the first time about the moment she saw her "soul mate" lying in a pool of blood.


As John's family remembered him over the bank holiday weekend, the first anniversary of his death, brave Maxine told the Herald: "The last year has been just devastating. There aren't words to describe what we went through.

"It was like you were living a nightmare and you didn't know when it was going to end and how. But the worst thing is, we're still going through it, every second of every day."

The plasterer was one of a group of Irish people socialising in Coco's bar when his friend was attacked by O'Flaherty.

After being thrown out of the bar, O'Flaherty returned armed with a 38-calibre revolver and shot John in the back.

Maxine fought back tears when she recalled the harrowing moment she realised her "best friend" had slipped away.

"I looked and I saw him lying on the pavement. I was running over to get to him but the police pushed me back. I told them I just needed to hold his hand but they said no.

"Then I looked and saw them pulling the sheet over his head. I'll never forget it."

She said she is dreading telling her young children, Jake (3) and Yasmin (1) that their dad was murdered.

"I'm dreading telling Jake. He needs to be told before he starts school because children can be horrible and I don't want him to hear it from someone else," she said.

"So I have to find a way to prepare him, to be able to explain it, without him being terrified that this man is coming back. I'm terrified it will have a major effect on him," she added.

A European-wide arrest warrant was issued for the suspected gunman -- who had previously served five years in prison for shooting a man he believed to be a police informer.

However, John's distraught mother, Angela (65) and sister Sharon (44) told the Herald that they have received no contact regarding the investigation.

"Whether it be the Irish Government, the gardai, the Spanish police -- we've heard nothing. It's like he's been forgotten," Sharon said.

"We want answers. We want closure," she added.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told the Herald that consular assistance is at the disposal of the family.