Belfast Telegraph

Irish man John Pender stabbed to death in bar on Spain holiday

John Pender was on holiday in Spain with his family when he was attacked.
John Pender was on holiday in Spain with his family when he was attacked.

By Ian Begley, Gerard Couzens and Gabija Gataveckaite

A married father of two was stabbed to death in a vicious attack in the toilet of an Irish bar while on a family holiday in Spain.

Dubliner John Pender (53) was on a summer holiday on the Costa del Sol with his wife and children when he was attacked by a man with a broken bottle.

The incident happened at the Pogs Old Irish Rock Pub in Fuengirola on Thursday night. Mr Pender, who worked with a suicide charity based in Shankill, chased his attacker through the pub after the attack but collapsed from blood loss at the door.

A suspect, thought to be British but living in nearby Mijas, was arrested at the scene.

Police confirmed he had been arrested on suspicion of murder, following a "surprise attack" on father-of-two Mr Pender after he had politely told his suspected assailant to stop bothering his wife and the partner of his friend.

Well-placed sources said witnesses had told the police the dead man was targeted with two broken beer bottles and had no chance to defend himself as he was stabbed several times in the neck and body.

One of the blows is believed to have severed his jugular vein.

Police, who happened to be passing by the pub, tried to save the tourist's life but he bled to death in front of them.

He was on holiday with his wife Caroline and two children, who are understood to have been sleeping at their holiday apartment nearby when the murder occurred.

A source close to the probe said the suspect had no criminal record in Spain and was a chef at a well-known Costa del Sol hotel resort and was on his own for a few days because his wife and children had gone on a foreign holiday.

A spokesman for Spain's National Police, who declined to name the dead man or the suspect, said yesterday morning: "National Police officers have arrested a 49-year-old British man in Malaga in the early hours of this morning over his suspected involvement in the death of an Irishman aged 53 at a pub in the town.

"The victim received cuts to his neck and other parts of his body with a broken beer bottle.

"The incident occurred around 1.50am in the toilets of the Irish pub. Police have established from inquiries that the victim and attacker didn't know each other.

"According to initial inquiries, the suspect took an interest in several women inside the pub, including the partner of the victim. At one point the man who was killed spoke to the suspect. The victim was allegedly attacked by surprise in the men's toilets."

Tributes have been paid at home to Mr Pender. He had worked in the Suicide Or Survive (SOS) charity with his wife, Caroline McGuigan, who is the founder and CEO of the charity.

In a statement, SOS said it deeply regretted the loss of "our beautiful friend and colleague".

"John’s sudden and tragic death has shocked us all and the loss of his huge presence leaves an immense void in our lives," the statement read.

"We extend our love and support to Caroline, Conor and Amy and the extended family, as they seek to come to terms with this devastating news."

Pogs Old Irish Rock Pub stated that they were closed yesterday due to an "unfortunate incident" on the bar premises.

In a statement on social media, the bar asked the public to be mindful when posting on social media.

"We ask for your upmost respect before issuing comments or opinions across social media for respect of the victims family and witnesses.

Our deepest condolences to family and friends," the bar stated.

Local residents expressed their shock over the tragedy.

Brady's, a pub near Suicide or Survive, had often held fundraisers for the charity.

A worker there told the Irish Independent that his colleagues are trying to come to terms with the sad news.

"We're all just in a state of shock," he said.

"The whole family would have been very close to the pub and we'd often help them raise money for their service.

"John was a big man, but he wouldn't hurt a fly.

"He was an absolute gent," he added.

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