Landowner pleads guilty in Julen case, avoiding a long and painful trial

David Serrano during Tuesday's court session, in the presence of Julen's parents.
David Serrano during Tuesday's court session, in the presence of Julen's parents. / MIGUE FERNÁNDEZ
  • David Serrano, the owner of the land where the toddler fell down a borehole last year, has been given a suspended jail sentence after admitting manslaughter through negligence in court on Tuesday

David Serrano, the owner of the land on which two-year-old Julen fell down a 100-metre borehole in Totalán in January last year, pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter through negligence in a Malaga court on Tuesday morning.

The judge ratified an agreement reached on Monday between Serrano and the parents of Julen to avoid a painful trial due to start on Tuesday.

Serrano agreed to accept the suspended prison sentence of one year handed down by the judge and to pay damages awarded by the court to Julen's parents, José Roselló and Vicky García.

These damages were set at just under 180,000 euros (89,529.67 euros each). The judge also ordered Serrano to pay 663,982.45 to the Junta de Andalucía to cover the cost of the rescue operation.

Serrano's defence, LawBird Legal Services, headed by lawyer Antonio Flores, paid the court 25,000 euros on Monday following the agreement.

According to the lawyers this sum was donated by another of the firm's clients, an anonymous business owner. Serrano was then due to pay 50 euros a month - he is currently unemployed - until his personal circumstances change.

Antonio Flores said, however, that his client would not be able to foot the regional government's rescue bill as "it would take him several lives to be able to pay it".

José Roselló and Vicky García were present in court with their lawyer on Tuesday morning to hear the sentence.

Serrano expressed his remorse for the events of 13 January 2019, admitting his responsibility for the toddler's death. "I never wanted the boy to come to any harm," he pointed out in court.

The decision comes just one year after the tragedy when the two-year-old fell down a 100-metre-deep hole that had been drilled in search of underground water deposits.

His fall sparked a 13-day rescue operation involving 300 firefighters, Guardia Civil officers, engineers and Protección Civil volunteers, and caught the attention of media around the world.

The family had been spending the day in the country with Serrano and his wife, who is Julen's father's cousin.