Just four days after the media published his photograph, one of the 10 most-wanted Britons believed to be hiding in Spain was nabbed in the Canary Islands.
Shane Walford, 38, a former soldier, had skipped the country in August 2013 after being ordered back in prison for manslaughter.
Spanish law enforcement officers arrested him on Saturday at Fuerteventura airport as he was attempting to board a flight to Ireland with his British passport, said Ignacio Cosidó, director general of the National Police.
“One arrested, nine to go,” said UK charity Crimestoppers on Sunday
The suspect, who was thought to be living in Lanzarote, was located thanks to a call from an acquaintance who alerted the police after seeing his picture in the news.
His mug shot was one of 10 photographs of British fugitives who authorities believe to be in Spain. The request for cooperation from the public was part of the ninth annual appeal for help issued by UK crime fighters’ Operation Captura campaign.
The anonymous caller warned that the criminal was planning a getaway, a piece of information that matched the intelligence handled by the police.
When he found himself surrounded at the airport, Walford did not put up any resistance and soon admitted to the facts, the police reported.
“I didn’t know they were looking for me,” he alleged after being arrested.
Walford, a boxer and former serviceman from Coventry, had been convicted to four years and six months in prison for killing a man inside a bar in his home town. The victim was a firefighter and a father of two.
A British court handed down the sentence in July 2010, and in January 2012 Walford was released on parole. He stopped showing up for his appointments with the parole officer, and disappeared entirely in August 2013, after he was served with a notice to return to prison.
On Monday, he was transferred to Soto del Real penitentiary in the Madrid region, where he will remain until Spain’s High Court processes his extradition to the UK following his European Arrest Warrant.
The NCA had requested assistance from the public, and given out additional personal information such as the fact that the suspect had several prominent tattoos: a black panther on his left arm and boxing gloves on his abdomen.
“There are many British fugitives who take refuge in Spain because they know there are communities of fellow countrymen where they can settle down,” said a source familiar with the investigation.
Walford had allegedly been living in Spain for a year, after using his parole to skip the country. The National Crime Agency (NCA) and the independent UK crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers had included him in Operation Captura, which is described as “a multi-agency campaign to track down individuals believed to be evading capture by hiding among expat communities in Spain.”
“One arrested, nine to go,” said Crimestoppers on Sunday.
The annual hunt has been going on since 2006, with a success rate of more than 85 percent: of the 76 suspects whose identities were disclosed over the last eight years, 65 have been found.
Other fugitives who remain at large include two sexual abuse suspects, a pedophile and six drug traffickers.