Innocent gun victim was ‘a gentle giant’

AN innocent Dubliner shot during a bar-room dispute in Spain last month was described as “gentle giant” and “a big softie” at his funeral Mass yesterday.

Hundreds of mourners packed St Joseph’s Church in Bonnybrook, north Dublin, for the funeral of father-of-two, John O’Neill, 41, who was shot while enjoying a night out with his fiancée and friends on a holiday in the resort of Benalmadena on July 28.

In his homily, parish priest Fr Frank Duggan, referring to Mr O’Neill as “Jock”, said he had “tragically left this world an innocent victim of an incident in which he played no part”.

Fr Duggan described Mr O’Neill, as “a mild-mannered man, who would never say a bad word against others”. He said that mourners may ask why John was taken so tragically and so quickly but he said “there are no answers”.

Fr Duggan asked that the congregation pray for Mr O’Neill’s partner, Maxine, and the couple’s two children, Jake and Jasmine. Condolences were also extended to Mr O’Neill’s parents, Angela and Hugh, his brother, David, and his sister, Sharon and wider family.

Mr O’Neill’s coffin was carried from the church by family and friends to a recording of The Voyage by Christy Moore. He was buried at Fingal cemetery in Balgriffin.

Meanwhile, police on the Costa del Sol were continuing to hunt Darren O’Flaherty, 35, from Liverpool, the chief suspect in Mr O’Neill’s murder, who went on the run following the shooting.

The fatal injuries to Mr O’Neill occurred after the suspect was ejected by staff from Coco’s Bar. Half an hour later a man randomly opened fire on the bar hitting Mr O’Neill.

Mr O’Flaherty has been on the run since 2006 after he was charged in connection with robbery and conspiracy to kidnap in Britain.

He had previously served a five-year sentence for grievous bodily harm.

A European arrest warrant was issued by a Spanish judge for Mr O’Flaherty following the shooting.

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