Irish man found guilty of murdering Poris man

Update 12 December: Keith Burke has been sentenced to 15 years 3 months imprisonment, 3 years of which have already been served whilst in custody. In addition he has been ordered to pay €200,000 compensation to the family of his victim, Abraham Báez Rodríguez. Sarah Stuart was sentenced to 9 months, but will not return to prison firstly because the sentence is less than 2 years, and because she was held in custody for 10 months at the time of the incident. She was also ordered to pay €600 compensation to the victim of the injuries she was found guilty of inflicting.

Update 30 November: Keith Burke has been found guilty of murder. The verdict was passed by the jury and it will now be the magistrate who declares the sentence, expected to be between 15 and 17 years imprisonment. Sara Stuart has been found to have caused injuries, for which she is unlikely to receive a custodial sentence providing that she meets whatever indemnity conditions are imposed. Keith Burke’s lawyer said immediately that an appeal would be lodged.

Update 26 November 2012: The trial of this couple starts today. As often with murder hearings, it is a jury trial, and is expected to last the week.

Update 4 May 2010: The Irish couple has now been named as Keith Burke and Sara Stuart. Both have been “imputed” for murder, which means that they have been notified that they are formal suspects in the ongoing criminal investigation. Sara Stuart has also been imputed for wounding, which could suggest that she is considered responsible for stab wounds which were apparently found on the victim’s body during the autopsy. They have been remanded in custody without bail. C24H

Update 2 May: Police have said that a knife was used in the attack on this young man, with the autopsy revealing stab wounds. There is some confusion over the Irish couple, with some papers saying two men were arrested, and others that it was a man and a woman.  DA

Update 1 May: The hotel was the Tropical Playa, in Calle Bolivia, not too far from the Caribe and the police station in Playa de las Americas. The 25 year old victim, now named as Abraham Báez, was from Poris, in the municipality of Arico. He was enjoying a weekend on land after a prolonged period at sea with the shipping company for whom he worked. Police say that the savage beating and kicking he received was so brutal it cost him his life.

The pair arrested by National Police are a 19-year-old Irishman and a 21-year-old Irish woman, both from Dublin. The consulate has been informed of their detention, which can be extended for up to 72 hours. Both had fled the scene initially, but the young girl with Abraham called emergency services. Clearly it was too late to help him, but the police were able to pick up his supposed aggressors. Abraham’s body has been taken to the Forensic Institute, and his funeral is expected to take place within the next few days.  La Opinion

Original Post 30 April: The body of a 25-year-old Arico man was found around 6am this morning in the doorway of a hotel in the municipality of Arona. The young man is believed to have died from head injuries which may have been received in a fight. Policía Nacional from Playa de Las Américas have arrested two individuals who are thought to be connected with the death. They are apparently Irish and of 19 and 21 years of age. The investigation remains open while police continue gathering evidence. C24H, La Opinion, DA


  1. Bit of a strange assumption that she did the stabbing. If the victim has died, it would not be wounding. The stabbing would be part of any manslaughter/murder indictment. More likely the Irish woman assaulted the victim’s girlfriend. PS In Spanish law, you do not have to be formally charged in order to be remanded. Charges are laid much later, when the decision is taken to proceed to trial, which can be up to two years later. I mention it in case the families decide to take action for libel!

  2. Author

    The victim apparently died from his head injuries, but police sources say a knife was used in the attack he suffered, which suggests to me, at least, that he received non-fatal stab wounds. By definition given the additional charge of wounding, it is my interpretation that it is likely these were inflicted by the female, but you are of course right that the wounding with which she is charged might be that of the victim’s girlfriend.

    With regard to “charges”, the Spanish is “han sido imputados por homicidio”, which I think is fairly translated as “charged” to convey to an English readership what has happened despite the formal differences in the legal systems. At the very least “imputar” means “to impute”, i.e. they have been determined to have a responsibility for the case which requires answering in a trial.

    I don’t see anything in the posts that could be construed as libellous: it’s a mix of fact translated direct from the Spanish press, and fair opinion, which has recently been completely confirmed in the UK libel courts as not libellous. In any case, there is no judgement on this blog’s behalf of guilt or innocence, or character, or anything else, in what is a tragedy for all concerned.

  3. Hi Janet (for info only, you can scrub this from your great forum once you read it). It was not my intention to irk but just to point out that the term can be a (translator’s) nightmare and one does not always realise the consequences further down the road.
    ‘Imputado’ strictly speaking means only that formal notification is given by the judge to the detainee that he/she is a suspect in an ongoing criminal investigation, but the formal charge does not come until the pliego de acusación is issued by the Prosecutor. I recall a case years ago when a UK paper was sued over this very term by a high-profile personality, whose lawyer denied his client had ever been ‘charged’ with child molesting. For what it is worth, the UN Human Rights Committee, of which I have some professional experience, has had a running battle with Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries over lengthy pre-trial detention without formal charges. E.g.
    ‘The Committee recommends that this provision is brought into conformity with the Covenant.’

    B) The Committee is concerned that the regulations relating to pre-trial detention both in respect of suspects (imputados) and accused, are not in conformity with article 9 of the Covenant. In this regard, it underlines that, in accordance with the principle of presumption of innocence, pre-trial detention should not be mandatory. It is also concerned with the wide possibilities which exist to restrict a suspect’s liberty as set forth in article 185 of the Code, in the light of the broad definition of “imputado”, contained in article 51 (1) of the Code.

    Ask the three British guys in jail in Tenerife since the summer for alegedly killing a Belfast youth if they have been charged yet! This is exactly the issue their families want taken up with the authorities.

    Hope this is of help in some way, even as a piece of curious information. Keep up the good work.

  4. Author

    Rebecca, thanks very much for this information. I’ve changed my wording in the light of your very helpful comments, and have left them public for a full record of your assistance, and my own desire simply to record openly what is happening here.

    Thanks too for your very kind comments on the blog generally.

  5. are they charged ??

  6. Author

    No, Louise. As Rebecca pointed out above, suspects aren’t charged in Spain until a decision is made to take them to trial, and meanwhile they can be held in custody or bailed while the investigation continues. This couple are formal suspects in the case, and in their case, they are being held in prison while the investigation is ongoing, perhaps because it is feared they would leave the island if released on bail.

    In Spain, people can be held in prison without them being charged if they are suspects in an investigation, whereas in the UK they can’t be held until they’re charged. It’s a problem with the Spanish system, as Rebecca posted, but there is one advantage, namely that if the police investigation decides they are not to go to trial, they will be released without ever having been charged.

  7. heya
    its tray.sara’s wit justins bro ste.i’m worried sick 4 sara and hav no numbers 2 contact any1.if u can email me 2 giv me any info.please do.

  8. please email me wit any info on sara.i’m worried sick 4 her..

  9. Author

    I’m afraid I don’t have any updated information, so as far as I’m aware they are both still in custody awaiting trial. Your best bet might be to contact the Consulate in Santa Cruz. The Consul is called Matthew Vickers, and his vice Consul is Helen Díaz de Arcaya Keating. The phone number is 0034 922 286 863. Good luck in tracing your friend.

  10. were abouts are u live in dublin???

  11. if u no sara and are in visitin wit her i tinkin of her day and nite..if u hav an address 4 me 2 write 2 her i’d really appreciate it.if not a no. 4 her ma margee.

  12. Author

    I’m afraid I don’t know her, nor where she is, but if you email the consulate they will surely pass on a message to her. Their email address is

    I’ve edited your phone number out of your post for your own security. I’m sorry I can’t help directly.

  13. tanx a million 4 tat email address..i will email tem and c can tey help me in any a v sad situtation 4 every1 involved..tanx again and if u do get any info let me no..tanx again..

  14. Author

    I’m afraid not, no. I doubt there’ll be much more news now before the case comes to court. The best source for information will be the Consulate, as per the details just above.

  15. Hi my name is Sara Stuart. Just to put the record nearly everything in the papers were false. I cannot comment on everything as I fear it will get me into trouble but I want everyone to know that me and my boyfriend Keith are good people, I never stabbed anybody and my boyfriend did not attack somebody for nothing. The truth will come out in the end and the Spanish Justice System REALLY needs to be updated and revised, its like a 3rd world country! Thank you to all that have stook by me and Keith xxxx

  16. Author

    hi Sara, and thanks for posting that. What is the situation now in the case? Are you able to say?

  17. Thank you so much Janet. At the moment we have to wait until a trial is brought together. It was not a vicious attack like it was made out. We were the ones who were attacked and its been a nightmare ever since. Yes a man was killed and my heart goes out to his family and friends but that was not what was intended at all. A lot of peoples lives have been ruined including mine, my family Keith and his family. Keith is a very kind and loving man, he is not violent and never has been in all the years I have known him. It was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Is there anybody out there that can help or give advice on how to speed things up over here?

  18. Author

    I fear that there’s no way of speeding up the judicial system here, Sara. It’s tortuously slow, and it must be a nightmare for you. I feel for anyone who’s caught up in it: whatever the circumstances, at least a trial settles things one way or another. It must be the waiting that’s the worst thing. The only thing I can suggest is the consul: at least they have official pathways and can let you know precisely what the latest situation is.

  19. Sara I found out about this a few months ago and have been searching the web for updates ever since.Not really sure if the post is from you – are you still being held over there? Bit confused because of access to computer …. let us know how you are doing. I can’t imagine what you are going through 🙁

  20. Hi Sara,
    I cant believe you are who u say u are because of net access,so i assume its u and u have use of a phone,i know u can get them in ther…lol I am paul (the english guy and was there last year myself in same prison and new Keith and chucky and the davud and John aka the london boys as i called them,Its a tradgedy that spanish islands are aloud to get away with that detention( no way are they working daily at your case they just forget about u i think.Tell Keith im thinking of him,For what it is worth i dont think an expensive lawer who speaks english is any good i prefer a native lawer and interpreter,as i had i was in there for 2 weeks and released a year ago and my case they say till ongoing,im still waiting to hear,i dont know if i dare come back tho as they can just intern you without charge,its crap.Ask Keith is there anything i can do for him as i owe him as he helped me so much does he still work in the Kitchen??

  21. Hi,
    This is Sara here, I was released last year on the 3rd of February (thats why I have internet access) I have to sign with the local courts over here and am not allowed to go home to my country until this is all over even though my Grand Father died sadly before Christmas. Last week I was seperated from all charges to do with the mans death but still am part of the case until it goes to trial. It has been 2 years now and all I can do is wait. I have not seen my family in 2 years and am just stuck here to fend for myself. Paul sorry I don’t speak to Keith anymore but I’m sure if you write to him he would be delighted!! Thats all I can say now, I’d like to thank everybody who didn’t make horrible assumptions about me or Keith or the situation.

  22. Author

    Hello Sara and thank you so much for posting. I am very glad to hear your ordeal is nearly over, even though it continues to be painful. Thank you for updating everyone.

  23. Hi Sara,Why dont you speak to Kieth anymore? Are you still together? If i get the details to write to him i would write to him as he was so good and helpful to me whilst i was there.Id love to write to him Sara.Im sorry you havent seen your family in such a long time is there anything i can do to help? How are you surviving on your own and have they took your passport off you? They told me i couldnt leave the island on my release too but yet they still gave me my passport back,so my solicitor said go home and ignore what they said as i thought there would be some block on my passport,but there wasnt and i was allowed to leave and deffo not coming back ,has Kieth been charged yet Sara or does he know when he is going to be heard,I was inside with him when he got taken out of prison to stage some recreation of evnts of that fateful night the stabbing took place he told me what happend Sara. Id like to know how you are surviving Sara and do you want to ring me,Where abouts are your family based as i live in Lincilnshire

  24. Very much looking forward to the outcome of this case…..most interesting & well documented. Thank you Janet & all participants…..

    Sandra Barrett

  25. Sara I dont believe your version of events. Why was keith carrying a knife??

  26. Author

    The trial is over now and verdicts reached. There is apparently to be an appeal, and as I don’t want this blog to play the remotest part in jeopardising that procedure, I’m closing it to comments. Ronan, the press reports are available in the English-language papers, particularly Island Connections HERE. The article was written, I believe, by much respected freelance journalist Karl McLaughlin, and says “The jury found that the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt its case that he left the scene of the initial confrontation outside the Tropical Playa Hotel in Playa de Las Américas and returned several minutes later with a knife from his nearby apartment with the intention of killing Mr Báez, who died from a severed artery after being stabbed in the neck”. I hope this clarifies.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.