Police in Wales arrest one of Britain's most wanted fugitives – on his birthday

Darren O'Flaherty, 39, is wanted for questioning by both Spanish and UK law enforcement in relation to a suspected murder and knife-point kidnapping

One of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been arrested  by armed police in the middle of his birthday party.

Darren O'Flaherty, 39, was wanted by both the Spanish and UK police forces in connection with the death of a father-of-two on the Costa del Sol in July 2010, and the suspected kidnap at knifepoint of a lorry driver in 2006.

North Wales Police, in a joint operation with Merseyside Police, arrested Mr O’Flaherty at 7.15pm last night while he celebrated his birthday at a Chinese restaurant in Caernarfon, North Wales.

Dave Allen, head of the Fugitives Unit at the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), said: “Darren O'Flaherty was out celebrating with his friends, but law enforcement had planned a birthday surprise.

”This arrest, following an operation by Merseyside and North Wales Police, means that 53 fugitives wanted under Operation Captura have now been apprehended, and those still at large should also expect to be brought before UK courts.“

Police in Spain want to speak to Mr O'Flaherty, from Kirkby, Merseyside, in relation to the murder of Dublin holidaymaker John O'Neill.

Mr O'Neill was in Coco's Bar, in the resort of Benalmadena, near Torremolinos, with friends for a wedding when he was killed in July 2010.

Witnesses said a man in the bar grew increasingly angry over having to wait to use the toilet and began kicking the cubicle door, which led to an argument.

It is understood that Mr O'Neill intervened, acting as peacemaker. The man stormed out of the bar, only to return a short time later with a gun, which he used to shoot the Dublin plasterer - who had a three-year-old son and a nine-month-old daughter.

Mr O'Flaherty is also wanted for kidnap and robbery offences over his involvement in an HGV driver being held at knifepoint in his vehicle while it was driven from North Yorkshire to Liverpool. Once £400,000 worth of cargo had been unloaded and the driver released after several hours, the vehicle was set alight.

Yesterday’s was the 53rd of 65 targets arrested by Operation Captura - a campaign launched in 2006 targeting British criminals thought to be hiding in Spain.

Many of those arrested are now serving lengthy prison sentences for their crimes, which range from drug trafficking to sex crimes to murder.

Other recent high-profile arrests include that of Mark Lilley, one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, who was found hiding in a panic room when officers raided a luxury villa in Malaga on 6 July. That arrest was captured on video.

Lilley, a convicted drug trafficker from Warrington, Cheshire, had been on the run since 2000 when he skipped bail during his trial. He was sentenced to 23 years in his absence for masterminding a large-scale drug operation and firearm offences.

On 8 July, drug dealer Eriberto Jimenez Melo was returned to the UK to serve a long prison sentence, having been arrested in Italy following an operation carried out by officers of the Udine and Parma Carabinieri.

Roger Critchell, director of operations at Crimestoppers, said: ”Both Merseyside Police and North Wales authorities have been crucial to this arrest, proving once again that the co-operation between UK and Spanish law enforcement, Soca and the public are essential in this fight against crime and it is thanks to them that we only have 10 criminals left on this list.“

Mr O'Flaherty appeared before magistrates this morning for a minor driving offence committed on Merseyside, police said.

Other court proceedings regarding the more serious offences will now follow in Yorkshire.

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'