How bizarre Spanish law allowed twisted teen murdered who hacked girl to death in echoes of James Bulger to work as a teaching assistant in an Oxford primary school
- Klara Garcia, 16, hacked to death in 2000 in San Fernando, southern Spain
- Iria Suarez-Gonzalez, 16, and Raquel Carlet Torrejon, 17, confessed to murder
- Suarez-Gonzalez, now 35, was released from prison just over a decade ago
- She was hired by West Oxford Community Primary School after passing stringent DBS check
Eighteen summers have passed since Klara Garcia was hacked to death on a patch of wasteland, but her murder still casts its eerie shadow over the city of San Fernando in southern Spain.
The 16-year-old was lured to the scene, a popular meeting spot for local youths, by two girls she knew from the large secondary school they attended in this mostly working-class community just outside Cadiz.
Her so-called ‘friends’ said they wished to devote Friday night to illicit drinking.
Eighteen summers have passed since Klara Garcia was hacked to death on a patch of wasteland, but her murder still casts its eerie shadow over the city of San Fernando in southern Spain. Above: One of Ms Garcia’s killers, Iria Suarez-Gonzalez, who was then 16
But as darkness fell and beer was drunk, things took a sudden dark turn.
First, one of her two teenage companions suddenly grabbed Klara violently from behind. Then, the other drew a four-inch knife from her pocket and attempted to slit Klara’s throat.
There followed a frenzied and entirely unprovoked attack in which she received a total of 32 stab wounds, 15 to the chest, nine in the throat — one of which was six inches long — and the rest to her arms as she tried in vain to defend herself.
Klara, pictured above, was the victim of an entirely unprovoked attack in which she received a total of 32 stab wounds, 15 to the chest, nine to the throat – one of which was six inches long – and the rest to her arms as she tried in vain to defend herself
Two severe blows were also administered to her head, seemingly with a rock.
According to a post-mortem examination, Klara eventually bled to death.
But it doesn’t seem to have been very quick; a forensic report stated that the pocket knife used was relatively blunt, meaning many of the stab wounds to her chest were non-fatal. Her ordeal only ended when her jugular vein was severed.
Iria Suarez Gonzalez, left with a pony tail, and Raquel Carlet Torrejon right re-enacting the murder in the exact same spot for investigators
A man on sentry duty at a nearby Spanish naval facility later told detectives that at around the time of the attack, he heard a seemingly terrified girl scream: ‘Did you bring me here to kill me?’
Those are believed to have been Klara’s final words.
Having killed their schoolmate in cold blood, the two culprits — 16-year-old Iria Suarez-Gonzalez and her 17-year-old friend, Raquel Carlet Torrejon — went home to change out of their blood-soaked clothes, before casually walking into town to drink at a bar.
The duo weren’t arrested until the following morning, a couple of hours after Klara’s body had been discovered.
Within hours, their case had made national news.
For at around lunchtime that day in 2000, the girls confessed, telling detectives in a quite extraordinary interview that their principal motive for the murder had been to find out ‘what it would feel like to kill someone’, and to ‘become famous’.
Over the days that followed, further chilling details about the ghastly crime emerged, shocking Spain in the process.
Having killed their schoolmate in cold blood, the two culprits Suarez-Gonzalez went home to change out of their blood-soaked clothes, before casually walking into town to drink at a bar
It turned out that, for most of their young lives, Suarez-Gonzalez, the daughter of a naval officer, and Torrejon, whose father was a shellfish merchant, had been relatively popular pupils at the nearby Institute Isla de León school.
However, in the months leading up to the crime, everything had changed: they had become insular and disruptive, falling behind with their school work and becoming estranged from many of their friends.
The girls soon started spending almost all their free time together, dressing in a uniform of long black dresses, boots and fingerless gloves, and developing an unhealthy obsession with Satanism and the occult.
In their bedrooms, police found Ouija boards and guides to witchcraft, along with collections of gothic jewellery and amulets.
To this day, Suarez-Gonzalez has never publicly expressed contrition for her crime. Neither has she ever contacted the parents of her victim, Jose Garcia and Maria Casado (pictured above), to apologise, according to their lawyer, Jose Ignacio Quintana
On the bookshelves were horror novels by Stephen King, along with other, more obscure titles with such names as Extracorporeal Experiences Of The Spirit and Ouija: Contact With The Beyond.
In their drawers were folders filled with newspaper cuttings and handwritten notes detailing high-profile murder cases.
It seems that by the end of 1999, five months before the attack on Klara, the increasingly disturbed duo appear to have convinced each other to carry out a murder.
A letter Iria sent to Raquel around this time began: ‘Do you want to kill? We will do it . . . Just tell me who!’
The girls were also growing increasingly fascinated by José Rabadan, a Spanish teenager who was also obsessed with the occult and who had made headlines that year by killing his parents and nine-year-old sister with a Samurai sword.
As well as sending love letters and marriage proposals to his prison cell, the girls also chose to cut their hair in the same style as his, and built up a large collection of press clippings about his grisly crime.
Inspired by Rabadan, they had travelled to a local shopping centre on May 20, six days before the murder of Klara, intending to follow a suitably vulnerable stranger into the public toilets and slash her throat with a breadknife.
However, the pregnant woman they had identified as a suitable target became suspicious and alerted a security guard.
The gory revelations ensured that, by the time the case came to trial in May 2001, Iria and Raquel had, at the very least, managed to achieve their ambition of becoming ‘famous’.
Indeed, the duo — known across Spain as The Witches of San Fernando, were front-page news.
A phalanx of photographers was on hand when they visited the murder scene, to re-enact the crime for the jury.
Astonishingly, Suarez-Gonzalez was hired by West Oxford Community Primary School after managing to pass a stringent DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check administered by the Home Office
And angry crowds gathered outside the Juvenile Court of Cadiz when they were sentenced for the murder.
Even now, almost two decades on, they retain their notoriety. Their crime has made them Spain’s equivalent, perhaps, of British child killer Mary Bell, or Jon Venables and Robert Thompson — the ten-year-old murderers of Liverpool toddler James Bulger.
All of which only adds to the surreal nature of Iria Suarez-Gonzalez’s latest court appearance.
For last Tuesday, the now 35-year-old former convict, who was released from prison just over a decade ago, found herself making an unwelcome visit to a British crown court in the university city of Oxford, some 1,400 miles from her Spanish hometown.
There, an extraordinary tale emerged — raising serious questions about public safety, institutional incompetence and the very real dangers posed by Britain’s slavish devotion to the EU freedom of movement laws.
It hinges on a single fact: between September 2016 and July 2017, this notorious child murderer, who turns out to have moved quietly to the UK roughly eight years ago, managed to get a job working as a teaching assistant at a local primary school.
Suarez-Gonzalez’s ugly past emerged only after an anonymous complaint was made via the charity Crimestoppers in late 2017
Astonishingly, she was hired by West Oxford Community Primary School after managing to pass a stringent DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check administered by the Home Office, under a scheme supposedly designed to guarantee that the perpetrators of serious crimes never gain access to vulnerable children.
During the recruitment process, and throughout her employment, senior staff at the school, whose motto is ‘inspiring curious minds’, appear to have been insufficiently curious about the applicant’s background to bother typing Suarez-Gonzalez’s name into Google.
Therefore, her ugly past emerged only after an anonymous complaint was made via the charity Crimestoppers in late 2017 — more than a year after she had been recruited.
At that point, the police became involved, and Suarez-Gonzalez was eventually charged with ‘fraud by false representation’ for failing to disclose the murder conviction in her job application.
However, when the case came to court last week, the CPS decided to drop the charge, because they now believed there was ‘no evidence’ of wrongdoing.
The reason for that is similarly rather astonishing.
It turns out that because Suarez-Gonzalez committed her appalling murder in Spain, she is, under law in that country, no longer a convicted criminal: Spain’s extremely liberal protocols mean that any crime committed by a minor is automatically expunged after ten years. Britain, of course, has very different rules.
In an effort to prevent people with very serious convictions, such as for murder, child abuse or paedophilia, gaining access to children, crimes committed on our shores are never considered spent and will always have to be disclosed.
They will also crop up on DBS vetting searches.
However, as the Suarez-Gonzalez case so vividly illustrates, UK rules apply only to cases that were originally tried in UK courts.
There is therefore absolutely nothing to stop criminals from countries with whom our Government does not share data, or where their historic crimes are considered spent, from slipping through the net.
If you think this sounds alarming, you are not alone.
Suarez-Gonzalez was eventually charged with ‘fraud by false representation’ for failing to disclose the murder conviction in her job application. Above: mourners gather during Klara’s funeral
Growing numbers of foreign teachers work in Britain’s schools, with figures released in 2015 suggesting that one in six new recruits to the profession qualified overseas.
Of this number, roughly a third — more than 1,800 recruits a year — are originally from Spain.
Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, says the Suarez-Gonzalez case exposes a serious safeguarding issue, telling me the case ‘has highlighted a significant difference between UK and Spanish law’.
So what’s to be done? The Home Office hasn’t commented on the case, save to say that it currently has no way of stopping foreign killers, rapists or paedophiles with spent convictions working in our schools because it’s ‘for individual EU member states to decide how long convictions are retained for employment vetting reasons’.
Indeed, as so often, when a particularly egregious scandal breaks, our ruling class has seemed rather more concerned with seeking to cover it up.
So it went that when Suarez-Gonzalez went to court last Tuesday, lawyers for both the school where she worked and Oxfordshire County Council sought an injunction to prevent reporting of the case, claiming that making the scandal public would somehow breach the Human Rights Act.
It was only thanks to the Oxford Mail newspaper, whose court reporter successfully opposed the application, that details ever became public.
On a different legal front, a layman might also wonder why the UK allowed a notorious convicted murderer to live here in the first place.
But we are — for the time being at least — at the mercy of EU freedom of movement laws, which give almost anyone from any member nation the right to settle on these shores, even if they have only just emerged from prison.
For Suarez-Gonzalez, that moment came sooner than one might have expected: despite the appalling nature of her crime, she had the very good fortune to face trial shortly after Spain’s then leader, Jose Maria Aznar (a chum of Tony Blair), had passed a new Minors Law, dramatically liberalising the rules regarding child criminals.
This meant that she and Torrejon, who would previously have been tried as adults (and could have been imprisoned for 25 years) were instead treated as juveniles by the Spanish courts. As a result, the maximum sentence they could receive for Klara’s murder was eight years.
In the event, they appear to have served little more than five.
Suarez-Gonzalez had the very good fortune to face trial shortly after Spain’s then leader, Jose Maria Aznar (a chum of Tony Blair), had passed a new Minors Law, dramatically liberalising the rules regarding child criminals. Above: protesters outside court following Klara’s death
Suarez-Gonzalez, who used her time inside to study for a bachelor’s degree, then attended the University of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain until 2011, moving to the UK shortly afterwards.
According to a CV she posted online, she lived in London and held down jobs at Starbucks, Claire’s Accessories and several other High Street stores, before uprooting to Oxford to seek work as a teaching assistant.
Rather predictably, she was soon granted social housing, and currently lives in a flat in a desirable location near Oxford’s main railway station.
The sub-divided building was purchased by the cathedral for £1,050,000 in 2007, and is now worth almost £2 million.
She also appears to have begun seeking work as a nursery school teacher, applying for a job at Summertown Montessori, in north Oxford, in 2014.
‘I remember the interview quite well,’ says the school’s principal, Rose Smith. ‘She looked dishevelled, a bit unkempt, and seemed quite desperate for a job, which is partly why I decided not to offer her one. Obviously now it looks like a lucky escape.
‘It’s very worrying that the DBS system didn’t pick her up. You trust it to work and to protect children, and when it fails it can have a terrible cost.’
To this day, Suarez-Gonzalez has never publicly expressed contrition for her crime. When the Mail visited her home this week, a male cohabitant said she did not wish to comment.
Neither has she ever contacted the parents of her victim to apologise, according to their lawyer, Jose Ignacio Quintana.
‘It’s a fact that she hasn’t publicly expressed any regret or said sorry to her victim’s mum and dad,’ he told me. ‘I think everyone has the right to a second opportunity…
‘But I can understand how a lot of people would be left shocked and disgusted by the idea that this woman has been able to get a job in a primary school in the UK.’
Additional reporting: Gerard Couzens in Spain
Source: Read Full Article