Belfast Telegraph

Dublin father shot dead in Spain 'over toilet row'

A Dublin father-of-two was gunned down in Spain because of a row over a toilet.

Dad John 'Jock' O'Neill (41) was murdered after a bust up in a bar on the Costa del Sol.



It is believed an argument started in the toilets of Coco's pub when a British man began banging on the door of a locked cubicle.



The spat spiralled when the man confronted a group of holiday makers from Dublin in the Benalmadena bar -- and was ejected from the premises.



Tragically, Mr O'Neill tried to act as a peacemaker as the man verbally abused the Irish group.



The man returned with a gun and fired five shots, hitting Mr O'Neill in the back as his distraught girlfriend Maxine looked on.



The victim, from Coolock in Dublin, staggered from the bar and collapsed at a bus stop 50 yards away.



The group of Dubliners were in the popular tourist area ahead of a wedding this Saturday. It is believed children in the bar may also have witnessed the shooting.



Police who are now hunting for the British gunman and have raided the suspect's home, which is in the wider Benalmadena area.



The suspect, who is understood to have criminal convictions in the UK, is now believed to be on the run.



Further details of the shocking killing emerged today.



The gunman was thrown out of the bar by security staff who warned him that "there's 30 of them and one of you, so do yourself a favour and go home."



But the gunman returned to Coco's Bar in Benalmadena, on the Costa del Sol, at 3am local time yesterday, and opened fire, shooting at least five bullets from a 38-calibre revolver as terrified drinkers dived for cover.



Plasterer O'Neill, a father of two from Bunratty Drive, Coolock, was hit in the back as he ran for the exit.



His distraught girlfriend, Maxine, suffered a panic attack as she watched paramedics battle in vain to save her loved one.



Mr O'Neill, who was at the bar with his girlfriend and others from the wedding party, died in a pool of blood by the bus stop as his friends desperately tried to get him to a hospital.



Paramedics battled to save his life but he was pronounced dead at the scene.



John O'Neill's girlfriend and their two children were being comforted by friends this morning.



Mr O'Neill's only involvement in the toilet cubicle row which preceded the shooting was to try to defuse the situation, it is understood.



O'Neill's girlfriend gave a description of the gunman to the Spanish authorities who are now hunting down the killer.



Mr O'Neill, whose children are a boy aged three and a girl aged nine months, has never been in trouble with the garda and was a popular figure among his friends and neighbours.



Spanish authorities have ruled out any suggestion that the death was gang-related.



A cloud has now descended on the wedding party, who were preparing for what should have been the happiest days in the life of one of John's close friends.



The celebration was due to take place this Saturday but the tragic events of yesterday morning have thrown the event into doubt.



A post-mortem will be carried out today at the Institute of Legal Medicine in Malaga.



The murder is being investigated by officers from the Specialist Violent Crime unit of the National Police in nearby Torremolinos.



They believe they have identified the killer, who is thought to be from Liverpool.



The initial indications were that Mr O'Neill died "as a result of a row that went too far" although "all lines of investigation were being pursued at present," Chief Inspector Pedro Parrilla said.



One local said Mr O'Neill had been shot in the back and the gunman then fired more shots at the pub before making his getaway.



Eyewitness Luis Solero said: "I saw a man running off with blood stains on his shirt.



"He jumped over a fence and ran in the direction of the marina. He was still carrying the pistol in his hands."



Coco's is a large bar, popular with tourists and expats, and has a terrace offering spectacular views over the Mediterranean.



It has seating for 188 people, two pool tables and 10 plasma screen TVs.



Locals in Coolock yesterday described Mr O'Neill as "the best neighbour anyone could have wanted".



Last night the O'Neill family, including his brother David and sister Sharon, gathered at the family home to come to terms with their loss. Family members declined to comment today.

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