Monday, 28 August 2023, 12:13
A 74-year-old British man resident in the Axarquía village of La Viñuela on Malaga province’s eastern side, is being held in custody for allegedly running over fellow Briton and neighbour, 80-year-old David James, when an ongoing dispute came to a head on the afternoon of Saturday 12 August as James returned home after lunch at another resident’s house.
Speaking to SUR, James explained that when he arrived at the gate of his villa that "there were several large stones" blocking his car. He said that as he bent down to remove them he heard his neighbour's wife come towards him shouting "Help, help, he's killing me, he's killing me!"
"Then he came out behind me and I said, 'were you the one with the stones? And he said no, those stones must have fallen out of the bush," James explained to SUR.
After realising that his neighbour was in "an obvious state of inebriation", and that he intended to flee the scene in his car, a Nissan Qashqai, James tried to stop him from getting behind the wheel by taking the keys from him. However, his neighbour allegedly responded by ramming the metal gate of the property and running him over on up to five occasions, according to James and his story is corroborated by several witnesses.
Upon hearing the commotion, around 15 more neighbours began to arrive on the scene. "He wanted to kill me, he drove his car over me five times, I have broken hips, several broken ribs and bruises on my head and arms. Then he took a stick and hit me, and if it wasn’t for the neighbours stopping him, he’d have killed me, he is a murderer,” said James, who is recovering at home after spending 10 days in the Axarquía hospital in Torre del Mar.
According to James, who lived in France before coming to live in La Viñuela, the Guardia Civil took "more than half an hour and up to 45 minutes" to arrive at the scene, where they arrested the neighbour on suspicion of attempted murder and causing injury.
A court in Vélez-Málaga which was on duty on the day of the alleged incident, remanded the man in custody without bail, on suspicion of attempted murder.
According to local residents, the suspect has lived in La Viñuela for more than a decade and had previously lived in Mallorca. "The only thing I tried to do was to stop him from drink driving so that he wouldn't kill anyone and in the end he almost killed me,” said James, who feels "very lucky" to be alive after the incident. He went on to say that his neighbour “is sick, he is an alcoholic”.
The alleged assailant's vehicle is still parked on the steep street where the incident occurred, as is James' Mercedes, which has a door damaged by the incident. It was not the first time that these two neighbours have clashed; according to James two years ago his neighbour threatened him with an axe.
James, who is the president of his residential community, told SUR, "Everyone has had clashes" with the same neighbour, "for different reasons.”
That incident was resolved with a restraining order "which he did not comply with", according to James. "I didn't want to go to court and there was an out of court settlement because my wife had been diagnosed with cancer just at that time and I didn't want to go through the whole legal process,” he explained.
At least three other residents were also injured to varying degrees during the events of Saturday 12 August, although of lesser severity than James. Several of the residents admitted to SUR that they are "afraid" that their British neighbour "could be free in a few months", which is why they are asking the courts to keep the man in custody without bail, pending trial. "I hope he gets at least ten years in prison," James said.
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