Dovercourt: Murder victim’s father criticises jail term length

Gary Vigors, 42, of Essex, was killed outside a bar in Magaluf in March 2011.

Gary Vigors, 42, of Essex, was killed outside a bar in Magaluf in March 2011. - Credit: Archant

Father-of-one Gary Vigors, 42, from Hankin Avenue, Dovercourt, died after he was stabbed in the neck with a broken bottle at a bar in Magaluf, Majorca.

The IT manager for the Lloyds Banking Group, who grew up in Southwold, was out on the first night of a weekend break with work friends when the incident took place in March 2011.

Thomas Swannell, 46, from Northampton, was due to stand trial at Palma de Mallorca court on Monday. But on Wednesday he admitted murder and was jailed for six years, minus the two years he has spent remanded in custody.

Yesterday Gary’s father David, a retired constable with Essex Police, said he was disappointed at the length of Swannell’s sentence, which he said was a result of plea bargaining.

He added: “If this had happened in this country, they wouldn’t have been any plea bargaining. He’s pleaded guilty, you can’t get any worse than that – it’s the most you could plead. It says it all. In this country it would have been life sentence, with a recommendation that he serves, I suspect about 15 or 20 years.”

Asked if he would like to have seen a life sentence, he said: “Neither my wife or I feel that somebody should be unjustly punished for something, but I do feel they should face the punishment they deserve. I feel six years isn’t sufficient punishment. I would have liked to see more than a six-year but not a whole life sentence. This guy has got a mum and a dad probably like Gary had and a wife and kids of his own.

“Like I said to my wife for the last two years, whatever the sentence is it’s not going to bring Gary back.”

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In sentencing, the court took into account the mitigating factor that Swannell was drunk at the time and that a sum of 160,000 euros had been paid to the Vigors family in compensation.

Mr Vigors, 68, said 143,000 euros would be put in trust for Gary’s four year-old daughter Nicole, who lives with his long-term partner Sarah Fulton, while the rest would be put towards legal fees.

He added it was only right that Gary’s child received the bulk of the money. “She was only two when it happened. Gary had an extremely well-paid job when he died and not only was he a smashing bloke but he was also a good father,” Mr Vigors said.

“Nicole probably doesn’t know, but she has missed out on a lot of good things that he would have supplied her with – material things but also the love and everything that you cannot replace.

“At least, now if she wants something when she is older at least the money will be available.”

Mr Vigors said the sentencing had not yet brought the tight-knit family, who all lived on the same street, closure.

He added: “My wife Pat and I feel like we felt two years ago. It brings it all back to us. But I think it will eventually will bring some form of closure. There’s a good side to it and that’s the fact that we are not going to have to sit through a trial next week.

“It’s about the only good thing I can see at the minute.”

Paying tribute to Gary, a former Harwich Secondary School pupil, his sister Julie Fitch said two years ago: “He was a very popular local figure, with many friends, and a devoted family man. He was a well-loved partner, father, son, brother and uncle, and this loss has devastated our family.”