A German man has been found guilty on charges of double murder and of attempted murder in Spain, the jury in the criminal trial at the district court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife announced on Friday.
The defendant, Thomas Handrick (46), from the state of Saxony-Anhalt, did not act in a state of reduced criminal responsibility, as the defence had argued.
According to the accusations, the man, who lives in Tenerife, had led his wife Silvia and their two sons, Jakob and Jonas, 10 and 7 years old at the time, on a hike in the south of the island and into a remote cave in Hoyo del Agua, in the municipality of Adeje, on 23 April 2019.
There he had beaten his wife and the older child to death. The 7-year-old was able to escape and was the most important witness.
At the scene, Silvia was repeatedly hit inside and outside the cave with a large stone. Hours later, the woman and her eldest son were found lying on the ground with significant head and face injuries.
Jonas, the little brother, saved his life because his brother yelled at him to run away.
The 7-year-old then got lost, he wandered through the fields for several hours, until he was found by two neighbors from Adeje crying on a path. He was the one who told the Civil Guard what happened. It was he who told what happened to the Civil Guard, who then arrested Handrick.
The victims lived separately from the killer in the German city of Halle.
The jury has considered proven that the father acted with treachery and premeditation. According to another witness, he even told his children that the cave they were about to visit was full of Easter gifts.
The crime was committed with particular cruelty, against family members and with malice aforethought. These are characteristics of a murder according to Spanish criminal law.
Defence plans to appeal
The court must now determine the sentence based on the jury's decision. The man could get a life sentence, which is only reviewable after 25 years.
The defence emphasized that it did not agree with the jury's verdict and announced that it would lodge an appeal.
At the start of the trial last week, the accused claimed that he could only remember fragments of the crime. Partly in tears, he claimed to have reacted "in mortal fear" and in a confused state to an unjustified violent attack by his wife, and to have "thrown stones back."
At the time, he was taking medication, including morphine, for pain and depression. However, experts stressed that these drugs did not led to increased aggression.