We set off for fun in the sun. But would our blissful new life last?
By Wendy Stewart, 46, from Doncaster
I dipped my toe into the cooling blue pool, and sighed with happiness.
Scorching sunshine, peace and quiet, and a cocktail or two.
What more could a woman want?
But I wasn’t on holiday, this was my new life in Tenerife.
My husband Andy and I had always dreamed of owning a bar in our favourite holiday destination.
So, with our three children old enough to fend for themselves, we decided to take the plunge.
We packed up our home and said our goodbyes in 2011.
We weren’t sad to go though – we knew it wouldn’t be long before everyone would be visiting!
By January 2012 our bar was a roaring success.
Of course it had been hard work, but it proved well worth it.
So, one night Andy and I gave ourselves the night off.
We got dolled up for a drink in a neighbouring resort, at the Next Door Bar in the Malibu Park hotel.
“Go and get us another cocktail, love,” I asked Andy.
It was nice to be on the other side of the bar for a change!
Then, the compere for the evening came over to say hello.
“This is Martin, by the way” he said, introducing us to another expat.
Martin Leonard was a bit older than us, so we guessed he’d moved out for a new life in the sun too.
“I hear you two run a bar,” Martin said, pulling up a seat to our table.
Andy answered, proudly explaining how well our new venture was going.
Martin wasn’t impressed though.
“You must be selling drugs on the side to be making any money out of that place,” he scoffed.
I was offended. We’d worked so hard to make our bar a success.
“Of course not, the customers just like us,” Andy said, laughing the accusation off.
But Martin wouldn’t let it go. Used to dealing with nuisance drinkers, Andy firmly asked him to leave us to enjoy our evening.
Eventually he shuffled off to another table.
“What was that all about?” I turned to Andy, incredulous.
“No idea. I’m just popping to the loo anyway,” he said.
But Martin then followed Andy into the bathroom, dragging him into a scuffle.
The landlady had seen enough.
“I’ve had enough of you,” she said, pointing her finger squarely at Martin.
She threw him out, while we were left to continue our evening.
“I’m glad we’ve seen the back of him,” I said to Andy, as we sipped on our drinks.
Just 15 minutes later I was back up at the bar, ordering our last drinks of the night.
But my attention was grabbed by an agonised cry, coming from where I’d left Andy sitting.
“Andy!” I exclaimed, as I whirled round to see a horrific sight.
Martin was back, and he was swinging around two huge knives.
With a meat cleaver in one hand and a kitchen blade in the other, he raised his arm and slashed Andy across the forehead.
Without even thinking, I rushed over to pull Martin away.
“Get off him,” I yelled.
It was no good though. Martin was locked into a crazed rage.
All because he was jealous of the success of our bar!
I was gashed down the side of the head, almost severing my ear.
As I stumbled away, blood flooding down my top, the landlady dashed to our aid.
Martin sliced her hand too. It was a bloodbath.
In the fracas I was knocked out.
By the time I came round we were surrounded by police.
I lifted myself out of the puddle of blood.
“Where’s Andy?” I gasped.
Thankfully he was safe.
Another holidaymaker had managed to wrestle the knives away from Martin, throwing them behind the bar.
Then the police turned up, and arrested him.
We’d had a lucky escape.
I ended up with 21 stitches to save my ear, while Andy had 20 to repair the deep wound in his head.
As we healed at home, the one comfort was that Martin was in custody.
He was clearly dangerous!
We’ve waited a long time for justice, but earlier this month we were at Tenerife Criminal Court to see Martin Leonard, 65, sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison for three charges of causing injury.
We’re still enjoying life in the sun. The attack didn’t scare us off.
But we never guessed our dream Spanish paradise would turn into a bloodbath nightmare.