Sunday, November 18, 2012

'It's like a nightmare we never wake up from': Family's anguish over death of father attacked by 30 men as he left bar on holiday

It was intended as a 17th birthday celebration for his twin sons at the family’s holiday villa in southern Spain. But Stephen Mallon’s dream of a two-week break in Competa, with its labyrinth of pretty cobbled streets and spectacular views, ended in tragedy. Attacked by a mob of 30 men as he left a local bar with his sons, he died after spending 12 days in hospital in a coma.

Stephen Mallon (right) had dreamed of a two-week break in Competa with his children Jenny, Peter and Carl. But, it ended in tragedy when he was attacked by a mob of men
Stephen Mallon (right) had dreamed of a two-week break in Competa with his children Jenny, Peter and Carl. But, it ended in tragedy when he was attacked by a mob of men

Now three-and-a-half years later, the businessman’s body is still preserved in a British mortuary, while his devastated family wait for the Spanish courts to bring his killers to justice. Charges of manslaughter were brought 16 months ago but no trial date is yet set and Mr Mallon, originally from Glasgow, must remain, according to Spanish law, where he is until the case is over.

But the delay has taken its toll on his grieving family, who have decided to speak of their ordeal for the first time in the hope a trial will take place soon, allowing them to finally find closure. Last night (Nov. 17), Mr Mallon’s daughter Jenny, 23, a St Andrews University student, told The Scottish Mail on Sunday: ‘Our family has been destroyed by what happened to dad. He was a decent, honest man who loved his family. It’s hard for us to accept he’s gone. It’s like a nightmare we never wake up from.’ The family believes the killing was fuelled by anti-Britishness towards the expatriate community and is concerned for British families still visiting the area, oblivious to on-going ill-feeling. She added: ‘Dad was attacked by men with knuckle dusters, bottles and metal bars intent on inflicting harm. We couldn’t bear for this to happen to another family.’

Miss Mallon, who was at the family’s house in Bournemouth, Dorset, with her mother, Teresa, 45, when the attack happened, has had to rely on eye-witness accounts to piece together the moments before the assault. Mr Mallon and his sons, Carl and Peter, were attacked after leaving La Estrella pub, in Competa, a village the family liked for its quiet location away from the busy Costa del Sol resorts an hour away. An altercation in the pub beforehand, between a local youth and another British man, led to the bar owner closing the premises. Her brothers, now 20 and promising boxers who hope to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, were unable to help their father when the mob struck.

Jenny Mallon said: 'Our family has been destroyed by what happened to Dad.' She told of how he was attacked by men with knuckle dusters, bottles and metal bars intent on inflicting harm
Jenny Mallon said: 'Our family has been destroyed by what happened to Dad.' She told of how he was attacked by men with knuckle dusters, bottles and metal bars intent on inflicting harm

Mr Mallon, wounded by a bottle to his head, was forced over a balcony, sustaining horrific injuries as he landed on concrete 25ft below. Miss Mallon said: ‘The Mayor has tried to play down anti-Britishness for fear it will affect tourism but we believe there is no other explanation. ‘Lies were spread that one of my brothers looked the wrong way at a local girl and that’s what started the fight. But my brothers were quite shy and unlikely to do that. My dad hadn’t even been drinking – the post mortem showed no alcohol. They were just out for a nice meal and got dragged into this nightmare.’

The family is also angry about ‘insensitive’ treatment from police and medical staff. Miss Mallon and her mother flew to Malaga after a phone call from the twins. They found Mr Mallon, who suffered a brain haemorrhage, in intensive care in the city’s Carlos Haya Hospital. ‘Peter and Carl, their clothes covered in blood, one with a broken nose and the other a fractured right hand, hadn’t been allowed to see dad and had been left to sit outside on the grass all night waiting for news,’ said Miss Mallon. ‘Inside the hospital, we were desperate to know what was happening but there was no compassion. No one seemed to want to do anything to help us. Maybe they assumed my dad and brothers had caused the fight but it set the tone for the next 12 days. It was horrific.’

She also learned there appeared no sense of urgency in getting her father to hospital for the one hour journey to Malaga, despite his terrible injuries, and when paramedics eventually turned up in an ambulance, according to eye witnesses at the scene, they seemed more intent on texting on their mobile phones than rushing to Mr Mallon’s side. At police headquarters, the family was interrogated and the twins made to wait in cells before questioning. Miss Mallon said: ‘A bag with my dad’s blood-covered clothes was handed to my shocked mum. We refused to take it, saying the clothes might contain DNA evidence and they should be examined. Tests later identified a number of people. We thought it was unbelievable incompetence on their part.’

Days later, the family were told Mr Mallon would not recover and three doctors had decided to switch off his life support machine. ‘We were given an hour to say goodbye,’ added Miss Mallon. ‘I remember afterwards seeing two orderlies pushing my dad, his face covered, along the corridor, whistling as they passed by us. Mum and I were crying yet they didn’t seem to notice. The memory never leaves me.’ It was six months before he was repatriated and the family told he must be preserved in case of another post mortem. She said: ‘The Bournemouth coroner gave dad a place in the mortuary but we never imagined he would still be there three years on.’

The Mail on Sunday has learned a number of youths were arrested by police after the June 6, 2009, incident and questioned before being handed over to investigating magistrate, Silvia Coll Carreno, at a court in nearby Torrox, to decide who should face charges. Sworn statements were taken from suspects, scenes-of-crime officers, paramedics and Mr Mallon’s sons in court hearings closed to the press and public. The magistrate has now finished her task and, in an indictment, has formally accused five Spaniards with manslaughter and another 12 with wounding and affray. They are all aged between 18 and 25.

It is understood delays have been caused by a ‘minor’ administrative error, resulting in the indictment being returned to the Torrox court to be corrected and resent. Now prosecutors and defence lawyers will formally submit their reports on behalf of their clients to Malaga’s Provincial Court and a trial is expected to be held in six months. A court source said: ‘Prosecutors will outline the sentences and punishments they are asking for and their version of what happened the night of Mr Mallon's death and the defence lawyers will do the same. That hasn’t happened yet because of the large number of accused but the court hopes to be ready for trial in at least six months.’

But Miss Mallon, who has since learned to speak fluent Spanish in order to understand everything at the trial, is sceptical about the date.
She said: ‘They keep saying six months, one month, two months….I hope for everyone’s sake it is finally going to happen.’ It is only through counselling from Scottish charity PETAL – People Experiencing Trauma and Loss - that Miss Mallon can finally talk about what her family have been through. The marine biology student, who developed post-traumatic stress following her father’s death and has struggled to cope with her university studies at times as a result, said: ‘It is like a form of torture and there is still no end in sight. How can we ever move on without being able to say goodbye or any sense of closure?’ She added: ‘We were a really close little family before this happened. Now we are all just functioning and frozen in time.’

Source: Daily Mail UK  

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