B AR staff who worked with the Irishman who was arrested on Friday in Puerto Portals on suspicion that he strangled his wife, told the Bulletin yesterday that they were shocked by the news, as he was a genuinely nice guy. Colin Whelan, 33, wanted by the Irish police over the murder of his 27 year-old wife in 2001, was known to staff as Cian.
The manager at the bar said yesterday: He was one of the nicest guys I've ever met. I had no suspicions about him at all. He turned up for work and went home. He was a genuinely good worker, he added. Only finding out the truth after reading the Bulletin yesterday was a huge shock to all his staff. We all said, this can't be right. It must be a case of mistaken identity, but you can't have so many stories and it not be true, he said yesterday.
Cian had worked at the bar since it opened a month ago and was liked by both staff and customers. He was arrested following a Guardia Civil raid on the property at 10.30pm on Friday night. Police in Palma quickly identified him through finger prints as the man wanted for the murder of his wife Mary at their home on the outskirts of Dublin.
The manager of the bar said it was a swift and efficient arrest: Staff who saw it said there wasn't a struggle, and Cian went quietly.
Most of my staff were on the terrace so didn't see the arrest, but I believe it was a very hush, hush affair, he said yesterday.
The international manhunt started in March last year when the man known to police as Colin Whelan was due to have stood trial in Ireland for the murder of his wife at their home.
Initially it looked like his wife had fallen down the stairs, but when the autopsy results were revealed police arrested Whelan and charged him with murder.
He was bailed before Swords District Court after declaring himself innocent. Later, he staged his own suicide and fled the country, using a new identity and calling himself Martin Bernard Sweeney.
The murder trial date was set for October of last year, but in March he disappeared.
Police found clothes and various personal items at the suicide scene in Howth near the Irish capital, but no trace of Whelan's body. An international manhunt ensued, with Whelan's photographs plastered over the Irish press. An Irish tourist in Majorca spotted the fugitive at a the bar in Puerto Portals, which led to his arrest last week.
A Palma magistrate read Whelan the charge against him, but it is likely that he will be moved to the High Court in Madrid to be extradited to Dublin. Staff at the bar where he worked in Portals Nous said yesterday: We thought that it can't be the same guy in the papers that we knew. It's still a shock.
When the manager phoned the Guardia Civil over the weekend to find out about their friend, no information was given. The first he heard of what happened was in the Bulletin yesterday. When asked whether he would change how staff are recruited, he said: We can't change how we deal with staff. We've got to forget about it and move on.
The arrest has taken Ireland by storm.
The parents of Mary Gough were said to have been numb by the news. We thought he was dead a family member said yesterday.