Gruelling wait for verdict in house-hunters trial

6th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

6 April 2006, ALICANTE — Relatives of a British couple killed while house-hunting in Spain now face a gruelling wait for the judges' verdict at the end of the trial of two men accused of the pair's murder.

6 April 2006

ALICANTE — Relatives of a British couple killed while house-hunting in Spain now face a gruelling wait for the judges' verdict at the end of the trial of two men accused of the pair's murder.

Anthony and Linda O'Malley, of Llangollen, were found in the cellar of a Costa Blanca villa in March 2003, the BBC reported.

Two Venezuelans, Jorge Real Sierra, 56 and Juan Antonio Velazquez Gonzales 40, deny their kidnap and murder. A verdict is expected in the next three weeks.

Judges were told Mr O'Malley suffocated and his wife "died from terror".

The couple, originally from Liverpool, left their home in Wales in August 2002 to search for a retirement home.

They were allegedly lured to the villa by Sierra and Gonzalez, where they were bound, gagged and chained in the cellar.

The court heard Mr O'Malley, 43, was regularly forced at gunpoint to withdraw large sums of money from a bank account the couple had opened in Benidorm.

Some six months later Spanish police discovered the couple's bodies buried in the cellar of the villa.

During the trial, the court heard Mr O'Malley had died from asphyxia. He had injuries to his neck and had been gagged.

A plastic bag had been placed over his head and his hands and feet were bound.

Unlike her husband, the body of Mrs O'Malley, 56, showed no signs of asphyxia. A pathologist told the court she had died from a heart attack brought on by the stress of her ordeal.

In her closing speech, the prosecutor said there was an "excess of evidence" proving Sierra and Gonzalez were guilty.

She said it had always been their intention to kill the couple "in cold blood" and asked the judges to sentence the accused to a total of 85 years in prison.

But defence lawyers claimed that all the evidence was circumstantial, and that some of it had been obtained through "irregular" police procedures.

As the two Venezuelans were led from the dock, relatives of the murdered couple held up pictures of the couple.

Speaking at the end of the trial, Bernard O'Malley, Mr O'Malley's brother, said it had been the longest five days of his life.

Explaining why they held up pictures of the couple, he said: "Through everything that's happened, we as a family have tried to remain dignified and do everything correctly."

"It was our way, and Anthony and Linda's way, of saying to the people, 'this is what you are here for, and you are paying the price for your actions'."

Sierra and Gonzalez have admitted they carried out a scam by advertising the property in Alcoy for sale even though they were only renting it, they deny kidnap and murder.

At the end of the trial, Sierra addressed the court, saying that while he had made mistakes in his life, he had never physically harmed anyone.

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Subject: Spanish news

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