A jury convicted Irishman Eric Wilson, 27, of shooting dead a British expat who tried to stop him touching a female friend at a packed Spanish bar.
Wilson, of Ballyfermot, Dublin, had claimed he was a victim of mistaken identity and had left Ireland after gambling problems for a peaceful new start abroad as a horse owner.
But the jury decided by a 8-1 majority verdict 21 hours after being sent out that he was guilty of killing Dan Smith, 24, “in a premeditated fashion using extreme violence to increase his suffering”.
Wilson, nicknamed “Lucky” by friends, shook his head in disbelief as a court translator told him the verdict before being led away in handcuffs.
His victim’s mother, Karen Wetherell and her partner Russ Kelly, who sat through every day of the three-day trial, broke down in tears at the back of the courtroom in Malaga.
Last night, Wilson was facing up to 25 years behind bars for the brutal killing on June 5, 2010.
State prosecutors asked judge Maria Luisa de la Hera to jail Wilson for 23 years, five more than at the start of the trial. A private prosecutor acting for Mr Smith’s family maintained his 25-year jail demand.
The judge is expected to announce sentence in the next fortnight. Wilson’s defence team pledged in court to appeal his conviction.
Roofer Mr Smith died after being shot at least eight times in the face and body with a 9mm Parabellum pistol on the terrace of the Lounge Bar in Riviera del Sol near the resort of Fuengirola.
He had rowed with Wilson earlier after customer Georgina Hollywood accused the Irishman of touching her. Wilson raced home on his motorbike, grabbed the murder weapon from his rented home in Coin more than 20 miles away, and returned to kill his victim later that evening.
Mr Smith, a fugitive from British justice over an attempted 2007 murder in Britain, received two shots to his testicles as he lay on the ground. The killer bullet pierced his lung and caused severe respiratory failure.
A protected witness identified Wilson as the assassin.
Fake passports, the getaway motorbike and hand grenades, explosives and ammunition were discovered during a search of his home. The murder weapon was never found.
A jury foreman, reading out a prepared statement around 11am local time yesterday said: “We find the defendant killed the victim in a pre-planned fashion and using extreme violence. He had the time to pre-plan the murder and acted in an inhumane way that increased the victim’s suffering.”
Wilson was also told he faces being ordered to pay the mother of his victim between €100,000 and €300,000 in compensation.
Mr Smith’s family lawyer, Carlos Comitre, said: “The gaping wound Wilson caused will always be open but at least now Daniel’s mum has some sort of closure and might be able to sleep at night without the help of tablets.”
Wilson’s defence lawyer Javier Mora said outside court: “The key to all of this was the protected witness who gave evidence against my client. He was the sole witness to stand up in court and identify him as the killer. We will appeal as soon as the judge determines sentence.”