SURROUNDED by cheering family and friends, Stephen Johnson celebrates his homecoming after more than three years stranded in Tenerife fighting a murder charge.
The 56-year-old grandad was found not guilty last month of the fatal stabbing of a Moroccan man, in the resort of Playa de Las Américas, in 2008.
He celebrated his return to British soil as a free man, with a pasty from Greggs.
After he was cleared in court Stephen, who acted as a good Samaritan to try and stop a fight, expected a quick return home to Elvet Green, Hetton.
But while his co-accused Bryan O’Connell, also cleared over the attack, was allowed to fly back to Liverpool, Stephen was “left in limbo” by the Spanish authorities.
However, the Wearside businessman finally flew home this week after being given back his passport, to join family and friends at a surprise party.
“All week, I’ve been worrying about something going wrong,” he said.
“It has taken so long to arrange everything, to get the paperwork in order. The Spanish authorities have made my life hell.”
He added: “It was such a relief when I got to the airport and everything went according to plan.
“I was so worked up, I’d forgotten to eat. The minute I landed I went straight to Greggs.
“That was my own little celebration. A pasty and a nice cup of tea.”
Later, Stephen’s loved ones packed into the Davy Lamp Inn, in Easington Lane, to welcome him home.
The dad-of-three, who runs Stepys Coaches, said: “It’s just a massive relief to be home again.
“I still can’t believe it’s finally all over.”
Wife Joan, forced to mark her 33rd wedding anniversary last month without her husband, said: “It’s fantastic to have him back home.
“We’ve both being living separate live since this all started. We’re all just glad it’s over.”