A British holidaymaker was found hanged in a police cell in Benidorm just hours after he was held in a bust up with officers during which he said: “You Spanish b*****ds – you’ve never forgiven us for the Armada!”, an inquest heard today.
Antony Abbott, 36 – who had been drinking lager – made his remark as he was being detained in his hotel foyer following a petty tiff with the mother of his two children over an empty cigarette lighter.
Less than two hours later, Mr Abbott, a fitters’ mate for a ventilation firm was found dead in his cell. Ambulance staff were called to the scene but were unable to revive him.
His fiancee Catherine Corless, 28, went to Benidorm police station to speak to officers only to be greeted by a Spanish interpreter who allegedly stroked her face and said: “You poor thing he really didn’t care for you or your children.”
She claimed the dead man had bruises around his head when she went to identify his body.
The hearing in Bolton was told the tragedy occurred in 2015 after Mr Abbott from Bolton, Greater Manchester and Miss Corless, 28, had arrived at the Spanish resort for a week’s holiday with their two children, eight and five.
The family – who had been to Spain for a family break the previous year – booked again the Hotel Palm Beach and after flying out on October 15 enjoyed the resort, activities and entertainment.
Miss Corless who works for a parcel delivery firm and had been in a relationship with Mr Abbott for nine years told the inquest: “Tony was a fun loving person with a zest for life and he loved enjoying himself and socialising with people. We had been enjoying the holiday. He got drunk on the first night but promised he wouldn’t do it again.”
The tragedy occurred after the family had been out for their last night on October 22.
Miss Corless added: “Tony had bought tickets for the Benidorm Circus for the Saturday night and we spent most of the day by the pool.
“We returned to the room and arrived for our evening meal at 7.40pm. We ate our meal and we had a family photo. We left the restaurant and went to the bar at 8.50pm, found a seat and sat down.
“Tony said that he was cold and he didn’t have any cigarettes so he went to get them and came back about five minutes later. We got our drinks and we started talking about getting married before the show started and it was reptiles.
“Tony was getting up and involving himself with the show, had snakes round him and he was in his element. The show lasted longer this time because people wanted their photos with the reptiles.
“Tony had about eight drinks of lager but they weren’t full pints and he wasn’t drunk. We lost track of time taking and it was 12.30am when we all started to go to bed. We arrived in our room and Tony went to the balcony to have a cigarette and realised that his lighter was out of fuel.
“I found my lighter which also didn’t have a lot of fuel and Tony got panicky about this because he was a heavy smoker and he needed his cigarettes. He told me he was going to buy a lighter. I asked where he was going to get it and he said ‘I don’t know but I will get one’.
“I watched him go up the stairs and I shouted at him but he came back down and said ‘what are you shouting at’ and was being embarrassing. I did the one thing that I knew would push his buttons and so I ignored him.
“Tony followed me into the room asking for the safe key so he could get some money out but I refused to give it to him so he got cross. He was shouting at me to give him the money because he wanted to go out.
“He became frustrated and started to throw clothes around the room and unfortunately this woke the children. There was a knock on the door and it was the security guard who spoke no English standing there. Tony walked straight past him and the security guard started speaking on his radios. He walked down to the reception area. The security guard followed Tony.
“Tony had been stopped at reception by the janitor who had hold of him. The janitor handed Tony over to the security guard and Tony was trying to get away and at this point the security guard slipped and fell to the floor.
“Tony was saying ‘leave me I’m going into town’. The security guard restrained Tony so Tony started shouting at him calling him names. The receptionist who spoke limited English asked me if I wanted him to call the police and I said if he wouldn’t calm down yes.
“The police arrived at the hotel really quickly and I was trying to speak to them but they didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Spanish so it was difficult. Tony was shouting ‘You Spanish b*****ds you’ve never forgiven us for the Armada’.
“When the police were taking Tony away he said ‘I’m sorry Cat, I love you, we’ll sort this out tomorrow. See you soon’ – but that was the last time I saw Tony alive.
“I went back to the room and Louie was awake and he asked about Tony and I explained he had been silly but he was going to be back in the morning. But then I had a call at 3am from reception saying the police wanted to speak to me. The receptionist told me that Tony had died.
“I just collapsed to the floor and was unable to comprehend what I had just been told. I can’t remember going to reception but I ended up there and a doctor arrived and tried to encourage me to take a tablet but I refused. I felt pressured to take it so I did.”
“I was on the phone to Tony’s dad for 20 minutes before I could convince him that Tony had died. I was in a total state of shock. I didn’t know what to do and I contacted a lot of people in the UK via Facebook to tell them Tony had died.”
She said she went to the police station to identify Mr Abbot’s body only for police to say they would have Mr Abbot cremated – although an official from the British Consulate said the family’s insurance company would help fly Mr Abbot’s body to the UK. She was refused access to CCTV images and was told she could not have the names of any of the offices involved in the arrest.
Miss Corless said she was also quizzed by the interpreter who said: “You poor thing he really didn’t care for you or your children.”
She added: “I was devastated by her comments. I was told he had been there for ten minutes and he had hung himself. The interpreter said that he was selfish. She started to ask me questions, why had we stared arguing, did he hit me had he ever tried to kill him self before.
“I answered all the questions but I didn’t make sense to me about why he would kill himself. I felt like they were trying to convince me that Tony wanted to kill himself. I said that Tony wouldn’t do it and he loves me and the kids. The interpreter said he mustn’t have loved you to kill himself. I was very shocked by her response.
“I saw that Tony had bruises on his hair line. He looked like he was asleep and I tried to wake him. I shook him gently but I was cold and I did realise then that he was dead. I saw the bruises on Tony and started getting angry.”
“On the day it happened he was totally normal, he was laughing showing off, talking. He was always encouraging the kids to do things and he loved life. He lived a great life and he was talking about decorating the house for Halloween when we got back because he loved that.”
“He never spoke about harming himself. I don’t understand how what was done, was done in such a short space of time. They just left him and didn’t do anything to help him”.
Dr Charles Wilson a pathologist who examined Mr Abbot’s body in the UK said he had a small graze on his forehead and jaw and added: “He had bruises consistent with gripping on the upper part of his right arm on his biceps.
“When people are arrested they can be restrained and it is not unusual by gripping the arms or wrists in this way. He also had a bruise on his left wrist but there were no signs of resisting handcuffs.
“The injuries are consisted with self suspended hanging. There is no sign of assault, only minor injuries. There were no injuries to his face that suggest he was assaulted. There was nothing that gave me concern that a third party was involved in this death.”
Dr Wilson said tests showed Mr Abbott had 173 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood at the time of his death. The legal limit for driving is 80mg.
The hearing continues.