Wednesday, 3 May 2023, 17:35
Ulrich was on his way back from the supermarket after his mother asked him to buy washing detergent when he was stabbed in the heart and left to die in a pool of blood on a pavement near Estepona.
The 19-year-old had been grounded and hadn’t left the house for a week after he had gone for a bike ride and lost his ID card during the pandemic and while strict mobility measures were being enforced.
Anthony Piovesan / Juan Cano
Ulrich's mother, Tatiana, got angry with her son and grounded him to teach him a lesson. But according to her, Ulrich was otherwise a good and obedient boy.
A week into being grounded she reminded him that he had not put the washing machine on for a whole day.
“Okay, mum, I'll do it now,” Ulrich replied. “But you’re going to have to go down to the supermarket. We’re out of detergent,” his mother said.
It was 2pm on 18 November, 2020 when Ulrich changed his clothes and went down to the Aldi store, just a few metres down the street from where they lived in the Las Acacias Diana residential development, near Estepona.
"When I get back we'll eat, won't we?" Ulrich asked before leaving. He then added: “When I come back am I still grounded?” But he never came back.
Tatiana still goes over every sentence of that final conversation and breaks down. "I told him: 'When you come back we'll talk about the punishment'. To this day. I'm still waiting for him.”
Ulrich was stabbed to death on the pavement at the entrance to the Las Acacias housing estate. He was allegedly killed by a 21-year-old British man who caught his eye because he was driving too fast as he was walking across the pedestrian crossing with a bag of groceries and the detergent.
"I noticed that he was late and started calling him on the phone," Tatiana told SUR.
"I thought he must have met a friend and started chatting. Then a neighbour rang the doorbell and said: 'Tati, run downstairs, something has happened to your child, leave the baby with me'. The neighbour was referring to Ulrich's little brother, who was two years old at the time.
Tatiana went downstairs barefoot, not having time to even put a coat on, and found the street swarming with police. She thought her son had been hit by a car. From then on, it was all a blur.
"I asked, but no one would tell me anything. I was screaming for an ambulance. Then I saw that he didn't have his glasses on and I knew something was very wrong,” Tatiana said.
“The ambulance came, they cut off his clothes and I saw the wound on his side. Who did that to my son, who was a very nice boy, who said hello to everyone? Who goes out in the street in Spain with a knife? A murderer who crossed his path".
The ambulance was delayed until 6pm: "Five hours waiting there, with my son on the pavement. That was etched into our hearts,” she says.
It is claimed that the two young men exchanged a few words and that Ulrich reprimanded the driver for driving too fast. Lewis Harry Briggs allegedly then got out of the car and tussled with Ulrich. He allegedly kicked him to the ground, stabbed him in the heart and drove away.
The indictment filed by the family claimed Briggs had assaulted Ulrich "without a word, unscrupulously," "First he gave him a professional kick, utilising his physical prowess and his knowledge of boxing, and a sport of which he is a personal trainer, to withstand any defence from the victim".
After several punches, the private prosecution claims, "with sufficient force to lift him up like a rag doll, taking advantage of the fact that he had already left him badly wounded and with no possibility of countering the surprise attack, he finally opened the knife he had prepared, and with the precise and accurate blow of someone who knows how to cause death, stabbed him directly in the heart".
Ulrich had no chance of defending himself, "nor in fact did he defend himself", according to the family's lawyer, who stressed that the suspect allegedly used his fists to "knock out a boy who weighed less than 63 kilos".
The British man fled the scene after the alleged stabbing and left Spain following "a conscious premeditated plan of escape", according to the prosecution case.
"He got rid of the knife, took his girlfriend to his parents' house, returned home, cleaned the car, stole some number plates from the garage of his housing estate, changed them by his car to avoid his vehicle being recognised, and commissioned a transport company to move the vehicle to England. Briggs then escaped to England by plane via Portugal, where he remained on the run from justice until he was arrested,” the prosecution added.
Briggs, who was 21 at the time of the alleged stabbing, was extradited to Spain from Britain after being held near Leeds in northern England in late 2020 following a search lasting several weeks.
The Public Prosecutor's Office is asking for a 16-year prison sentence for the death and theft of the number plates. The private prosecution raised the sentence request to 23-and-a-half years in prison, considering that it was a murder or at least, an aggravated homicide. The legal representation of the accused has not yet presented a defence brief.
Two-and-a-half years have passed, and the accused awaits his trial while being able to walk freely in the public. He remained behind bars from December 2020 until Christmas Eve 2022. The court allowed him to leave prison at the end of his two-year pre-trial detention and rejected the private prosecution's requests for an extension. Ulrich’s family called it “laughable”.
“He was released for Christmas Eve. Christmas is no longer celebrated in my house," Tatiana laments.
Tatiana says a collective paranoia has set in at home at the thought of encountering the young man who allegedly killed her son, and who apparently lives a five-minute drive from her house.
"You become obsessed and you see him everywhere," Tatiana says. "We live in hiding to avoid running into him. If I see him, what do I do, what about my husband? There isn't even a restraining order to protect us.”
Two-and-a-half years later and Ulrich's room is exactly the way he left it on that fatal day. "The week he was grounded, he took the opportunity to tidy it up and throw things away," Tatiana, who is of Nicaraguan origin, says.
She arrived in Spain 23 years ago, when Abril - the deceased boy's older sister - was only eight months old. Shortly after he was born, his father decided to name him Ulrich after the drummer of Metallica, his favourite band.
The parents separated a couple of years later and Tatiana, who earns her living as a domestic worker, rebuilt her life with a Spanish cook who has helped her raise her children and with whom she has become a mother again to little Dylan, "who will no longer be able to know his brother". They are a very well-known and respected family in Estepona.
In the living room of her home, Tatiana has installed a display case with the urn surrounded by all the mementos that her friends kept and that they wanted to give to the family.
Next to the display case is a picture of the Buddha that Ulrich had tattooed months earlier on his left arm. "That picture was at a friend's house and he liked it very much. When my son died, his friend brought the painting to me so that I could have it. But the emptiness is impossible to fill and you can feel it in every word. He is always with me," says Tatiana.
On 11 August 2021, when Ulrich would have celebrated his 20th birthday, about 50 of his son's friends turned up at the house. On the first anniversary of his death, more than a hundred people came to the home to give the family a hug and to bring flowers. The house looked, they say, like a florist's shop.
The community in Estepona took up a collection to help them pay for the funeral, which was finally paid for by Tatiana's father-in-law, and to pay for all of the legal proceedings.
"My son has a private lawyer today thanks to his friends and our neighbours. Thanks to the people who loved him. We are very grateful,” Tatiana says.
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