Pardoned jailbird sees his hopes of freedom dashed

Confusion over sentence review means Spain's longest-serving inmate must stay behind bars

Granada

After 35 years in jail and eight successful breakout attempts, Spain's longest-serving inmate received a government pardon yesterday that saw him and his family convinced that he would walk free immediately – only for him to remain behind bars.

Since 1976, Spanish courts have found Miguel Angel Montes Neiro guilty of more than 30 robberies and armed burglaries, many committed while on the run. But even as a spokesman for the Spanish government, Jose Blanco, confirmed yesterday that Montes Neiro, 61, had received a pardon for two of his multiple crimes, another outstanding sentence – for robbery and illicit possession of firearms – will see him remain in jail.

Montes Neiro, from the province of Granada in southern Andalusia, was predictably delighted when news of the pardon broke yesterday lunchtime, telling his family by phone: "Don't come to the prison gates when I get out, I want to walk the first two or three kilometres so I can feel the fresh air like a free man."

However, it emerged that his pardon was only partial and that a court review of a 13-year sentence was still pending.

Montes Neiro spent his first night in the cells in 1966, aged 16, when he was arrested for stealing a packet of cigarettes. His first formal sentence came a decade later for desertion – but not before he had spent 10 days in army prison for stealing a sub-machine gun.

During his numerous breakouts, the most recent in 2009 when he spent two hours on self-imposed parole to attend the wake for his mother, Montes Neiro found the time to marry twice and have two children – and to commit a string of hold-ups and kidnaps.

Montes Neiro's record is as varied as it is long. He has been convicted of beating up hostages on three occasions, and he once formed part of a gang that broke into a Granada home and threatened to cut off a man's thumb unless his wife revealed the location of his safe.

His escapes include one from a maximum security prison in the Spanish colony of Ceuta in 1979, but perhaps his most dramatic breakout came in 1981: after hanging himself in a staged suicide bid, breaking two ribs, he escaped from prison hospital in a taxi.

On the run for a total of three years, his repeated recapture was facilitated by his tendency to remain in or near his home town. His one spell abroad, in Morocco, ended when he returned to Granada because he missed his family.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee