Family heartbroken as Shankill man, John Pender, killed in Spain

by Gary Ibbotson

Tributes have been pouring in for John Pender, the Shankill man who was killed in the early hours of Friday morning in a Costa-del-Sol pub.

John Pender, 53, was a charity worker and acupuncturist who worked for The Suicide or Survive charity, a organisation that was founded by his wife, Caroline McGuigan.

“He will be sadly missed by his loving and heartbroken wife, children, Dad, brother Stephen and sister Christine,” reads a death notice on

The notice adds the father-of-two, originally from Deansgrange died tragically and suddenly while on holidays. “Beloved husband of Caroline McGuigan and loving Dad of Conor and Amy, son of Sean and the late Bernadette, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and a large circle of friends.”

A member of the public who offered her condolences on the website posted: “Such a terrible thing to happen to a fine young man a gentleman rip John.”

In a Facebook statement, the mental-health charity said: “The Board of Suicide or Survive, its management and staff, and its close knit family of supporters deeply regret the loss of their beautiful friend and colleague, John Pender, husband of our founder and CEO Caroline McGuigan.

“John’s sudden and tragic death has shocked us all and the loss of his huge presence leaves an immense void in our lives.

“We extend our love and support to Caroline, Conor and Amy and the extended family, as they seek to come to terms with this devastating news. Ar dheis De go raibh a ainm.”

Pender was stabbed to death in the bathroom of Pogs Old Irish Rock pub in the seaside town of Fuengirola. It is understood the surprise attack happened after the deceased politely asked a man to stop harassing his wife and their friend’s partner.

An English national who currently lives and works in Spain as a chef was arrested after allegedly attacking Pender with two broken bottles while he was using the toilet.

Leigh Anthony Gardiner, 49, appeared in court in Fuengirola where he was remanded in custody pending an ongoing criminal investigation.

“National Police officers have arrested a 49-year-old British man in Malaga in the early hours of this morning over his suspected involvement in the death of an Irishman at a pub in the town,” a spokesperson for the Spanish police said.

“The victim received cuts to his neck and other parts of his body with a broken beer bottle. The incident occurred around 1.50am in the toilets of the Irish pub.”

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