Sunday, 7 January 2024, 19:05
On Thursday last week José Arcadio D. N., better known as 'El Melillero', was sentenced to 41 years in prison for attempting to murder his ex-girlfriend, Sandra, and her friend after spraying them with sulphuric acid on 12 January 2021 in the Malaga province town of Cártama. The provincial court judge considered that 'El Melillero' acted together with the defendant, known as 'Poti', without specifying which of the two threw the liquid on the victims.
José Arcadio had a romantic relationship with Sandra between May and December 2020. According to the court ruling, the relationship developed normally at the beginning, but when she finished her studies and "had a greater social life", José Arcadio developed an "uncontrolled jealousy" that made him unjustifiably suspicious of Sandra's alleged infidelities. He pressured the woman to move in with him "in order to have more control over her".
Driven by his "obsession" José Arcadio repeatedly tried to access the contents of Sandra's mobile phone, which led to frequent incidents between the couple, according to the court ruling. One of the times that she reproached him for taking her phone, José Arcadio reacted by "slapping her in the face", which caused her to grab a knife. He disarmed her and, in the struggle, the young woman suffered a deep cut on one hand.
The court ruling declared it proven that the convicted man controlled the places Sandra went to and that he also used her personal documents to rent a car in her name "without her knowledge". The abuse, according to the ruling, was also verbal. José Arcadio would say to her: "Whore, slut, you are worthless, you are the lowest thing on the Costa del Sol".
This situation of "permanent control and domination" caused Sandra a "great fear" of the now convicted man. Jose Arcadio D. was found guilty on two counts of attempted murder, one of habitual ill-treatment, another of harassment and two counts of threats.
The fear for her own safety became such that in December 2020 Sandra decided to break off the relationship and leave the house she shared with José Arcadio. She did not dare to return to her parents' house and decided to live with her friend Cristina at her home in Cártama to prevent her ex-boyfriend from locating her. "She also changed her phone number, unsubscribed José Arcadio from her Instagram account and took precautions when going out," the ruling states. If she ventured out, she was always accompanied by another person.
But José Arcadio "did not leave her alone", the court underlines, highlighting the "continuous calls with which he pressured her to return to him if she did not want to suffer any harm, and the "physical approaches to Cristina's home. He also sent her threatening messages on 23, 24 and 25 December 2020, as well as on 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 11 January 2021.
'El Melillero' monitored Sandra's movements: in early January 2021 he installed geolocation devices in both her and Cristina's car. "This allowed him to know exactly where both vehicles were, frequently showing up at the places where both friends were, making her the object of surveillance," the sentence states. The day before the attack, while the two women were at the Los Álamos petrol station in Torremolinos, José Arcadio approached Sandra and told her that he was going to kill her, that he was going to ruin her life, and that he was going to destroy "that pretty face she had".
By then, his hideous plan was already underway. Between the first and fifth of January, 'El Melillero' ordered a friend to buy a bottle of sulphuric acid with the highest possible concentration. He searched the internet and purchased a bottle with a hydrochloric acid concentration of 98% from a shop in Catalonia.
On 12 January in 2021, at about 2.10pm, El Melillero was driving a vehicle in which another of the defendants, J. J. G. R., also known as ‘Poti’, was a passenger. He drove past his ex-partner and her friend who were sat in another vehicle in Cártama and sulphuric acid was hurled at them. The two victims were rushed to hospital and suffered lifelong injuries.
The court considers the two crimes of attempted murder to be proven as they understand that there was "homicidal intent" based on the "radically dangerous" nature of the product used. "Pouring a considerable quantity of liquid, with the highest possible concentration of sulphuric acid, on a person is a probable cause of death, due to the highly harmful effects of sulphur. Therefore, the risk of death created by the use of the product is not the result of chance, but of the highly corrosive nature of the acid," the judges conclude.
The court considered that the perpetrators also proved premeditation because they ensured the execution of the plan by "ambushing" the victims. The court did not find evidence that the defendants were part of a criminal organisation, as the Guardia Civil and the prosecution had claimed. The other defendants were also acquitted of complicity in the attempted murders, for which 'El Melillero', 'Poti' and the young man who bought the can of acid were convicted.
The magistrates declared 'El Melillero' and 'Poti' as the material authors of the attack, and found the man who bought the acid guilty as an accomplice. The court imposed a sentence of 41 years and three months in prison on José Arcadio N. D., to which it added a 73-year restraining order. 'Poti' was sentenced to 32 years and three months in prison. The man who bought the acid on the instructions of 'El Melillero' was given a ten-year jail sentence. The other three defendants were acquitted.
The court set the damages at 1,133,401 euros for Sandra and 312,522 euros for Cristina.
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