“IT could have happened to anyone.”
These were the words of the heartbroken family of John O’Neill, who was gunned down during a dream holiday abroad to celebrate a friend’s wedding.
Speaking last night through a close family friend, the slain 40-year-old’s grieving parents and siblings said the Dublin plasterer was simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time” when a bar row turned to deadly violence in southern Spain yesterday morning.
Describing the father of a three-year-old son and nine-month-old daughter as a loving dad who was never involved in any criminal activity, the family, from Bunratty Drive in Coolock, said their lives have been torn apart.
The grieving relatives explained that Mr O’Neill, his partner Maxine and two children’s trip to the Costa del Sol had begun as their dream first foreign family holiday, but had suddenly turned into a nightmare.
Turning their attention to the man who shot the father-of-two twice in the stomach and back as he left the late-night Coco’s bar in Arroyo de la Miel area of Benalmadena, the 40-year-old’s parents pleaded with Spanish police to catch their son’s killer.
Officers from the Specialist Violent Crime unit in Torremolinos have confirmed they are following a definite line of inquiry into the incident.
The investigation is understood to centre around two men who had been arguing with Mr O’Neill in the bar — one of whom is from Liverpool and is alleged to have fired the gun which killed the Irishman.
A number of witnesses at the scene said they saw the British man flee the scene after firing three bullets at Mr O’Neill.
“I saw a man running off with blood stains on his shirt. He was still carrying the pistol in his hands,” Luis Solero told Spanish TV.
Another person who was close by when the murder occurred said she believed the gunshots were small fireworks before she heard screams from adults and children who had travelled to Spain for the wedding.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing consular assistance to Mr O’Neill’s parents, two siblings, two children and partner Maxine, who was leaving Coco’s bar with her boyfriend when the attack took place.
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