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Mario Sauco, the last Christmas he spent with his family, with his three daughters in the background.
Family lash out at Brit involved in Costa del Sol death: 'He killed my father and now he laughs at us and Spanish justice'
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Family lash out at Brit involved in Costa del Sol death: 'He killed my father and now he laughs at us and Spanish justice'

The British holidaymaker, convicted of reckless homicide, avoided prison after agreeing to pay 183,000 euros in compensation to the victim's family, but four years later he has not paid a cent of it

Juan Cano

Malaga

Friday, 26 April 2024, 11:53

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The family of a Spanish man who died after being punched in the face by a British man outside a bar in Fuengirola in 2018 have said that they still haven't received any of the compensation the man agreed to pay during the trial.

In the summer of 2018 during a holiday in Fuengirola, Mark T., now in his 50s, punched a man, knocking him out, after an incident in a bar. The victim, Mario Sauco (66), fell to the ground and died eight days later in hospital. Mark T. was married, had two daughters and was working for a property investment company when it all happened.

The assailant immediately returned to the UK with his family, meaning Spain's National Police force had to open an investigation to identify him and it took three months to arrest him. He was tried two years later when he pleaded guilty and was convicted of reckless homicide.

"Light" sentence

Mark T. accepted a sentence of two years' imprisonment and compensation of 183,500 euros for the family of Mario Sauco, who left a widow and four grandchildren whom he used to look after so that his three daughters could go to work. Mr Sauco's family considered the sentence "light".

The British man applied for a suspended sentence on condition that he did not reoffend and that he paid civil liability. Mark T. undertook to pay 800 euros per month into the court account, meaning it would have taken him almost 20 years to pay the full amount of compensation.

The court warned him that after the third missed monthly payment, his sentence would be revoked and he would have to go to prison. Six years have passed since the murder and four years have passed since the sentence was imposed. Mark T. has not paid a single cent, as reported by the family and confirmed by the Andalusian High Court of Justice (TSJA).

An aggression "without any possibility of explanation"

The sentence against Mark T. considered it proven that he punched Mario Sauco in the face "unexpectedly and without any possibility of explanation". Mario was "knocked out" by the blow for a few seconds and collapsed backwards on the asphalt. In the fall, the victim hit his head "hard on the ground", which caused a cranioencephalic traumatism with a right temporal fracture, subdural haematoma and bilateral subarachnoid haemorrhage. He was admitted to hospital in a coma. Eight days later, he died. The reason for the punch was an incident that happened minutes before in a bar in Fuengirola. Mario was drinking in the company of a friend. The British man was sitting at another table with his family and friends, with whom he was celebrating a birthday. Someone told Mark that Mario Sauco "got heavy" with one of the Briton's daughters, who did not even see the incident By then, Mario had already left the bar and was on his way home. Mark chased him down the street and threw the punch that killed him. The sentence stated: "There was no evidence of any kind of abuse or sexual advances [by Sauco] towards Mark T.'s daughters".

During the first months, the British sent several emails to Malaga's fifth criminal court alleging problems with the bank transfers. However, at the time of writing, the judicial account had not received any amount in Mark T.'s name.

"He is laughing at us and at Spanish justice," said Verónica Sauco, the eldest of Mario's three daughters, who still lives in Fuengirola. "We have been without my father for six years and we are still in the same situation. I don't understand why the injured parties, the victims, have fewer rights than the criminals," she points out.

Veronica and her sisters, Analia and Elisabeth, are convinced that the convicted man used the confession to avoid prison. "If this man had approached us and told us something, that he was wrong and asked for forgiveness, the situation would have been less painful. But this? He said he was guilty so he could go free and then he hasn't made a single transfer. That's making a mockery of us."

Revoke sentence request

Law firm Herrera & Ábalos, which is representing the Sauco family in the case, requested at the end of 2020 that the suspension of the sentence be revoked due to repeated non-compliance with the payment schedule and that the Briton be sent to prison. The court did so and issued an International Arrest Warrant (OID) and a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for Mark T. to imprison him for the murder.

The law firm contacted the Spanish liaison magistrate in the UK and a UK body dealing with the enforcement of foreign civil and commercial judgments, to whom they turn for help with the civil liability part of the criminal proceedings against Mark T.

To make matters worse, the UK's exit from the European Union completely changed the regulatory framework, although the Sauco family's lawyers maintain that the facts predate Brexit.

Interestingly, while this report was being drafted, and after years without any communication with the court, Mark T. sent a new email to the lawyer of the Administration of Justice (LAJ) of the court in Malaga to inform her that he had recently been arrested - there is still no official confirmation - under the European arrest warrant for the non-payment of the compensation.

In the email, the convicted person again insisted that there has always been "a problem" with sending money to the account and said that, according to the OEDE, imprisonment and extradition to Spain would be avoided if he keeps to the income schedule, so he has offered - once again - to update the payment and regulate his situation.

The court has already notified the relevant parties of the content of this latest email and has asked that Interpol, the Sirene bureau (whose mission is to complete the alerts and requests of the files) and the fugitive locator group of the National Police be notified so that they can inform of the personal situation of the convicted person.

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