A GRANDFATHER accused of murder on a Spanish island has spoken of his joy as he arrived home for medical treatment – and hopes his fight to be cleared can be pushed on during his stay.
Stephen Johnson denies the charges, which were brought after a Moroccan man was stabbed in Tenerife in January 2008.
Since then, the 56-year-old, from Hetton, has been on bail and restricted to live on the island, leaving him stranded from his wife Joan, their three children and his toddler grandaughter.
He has been allowed to return home for seven weeks to undergo medical treatment for arthritis and high cholesterol levels.
The businessman said: “I’m just living in the house, doing what I’ve missed.
“I’m just hoping to hear that the Foreign Office get on and do something. How much longer is it going to be?
“I would like to get some sort of news before I go back on June 7.”
Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson has written to Stephen’s wife Joan to say she has lobbied the Foreign Office, which has previously said it contacted the Spanish embassy.
Stephen is keeping the 2,000-plus supporters who have signed up to his Bring Back Stepy Facebook page up-to-date with his case and has urged them to contact the Foreign Office to call for action.
When papers were transferred from a lower court in Arona Las Americas to the High Court in Santa Cruz, it was hoped a trial date would be in sight, however, no arrangements have been made.
Stephen’s firm, Stepy’s Coaches, is struggling because he is on bail in Tenerife, with insurers now not willing to put his name on their policies.
Joan, son Gary, 26, daughter Michelle, 28, and mother Nora, 79, are rallying round to run the business in his absence.
However, he says the company is on its knees because of the economic downturn and the criminal case against him.
Speaking as his two-year-old granddaughter Lilly-Mai plays at his feet, he said: “I’ve missed her growing up. Nothing can bring back what I have lost.”
Joan, 54, who works part-time as a business support assistant with Sunderland City Council’s social services department, added: “It’s great to gave him home, it’s better than any Easter egg.”
Stephen was arrested after an incident in an area of Playa de las Americas known as the Patch and says he was acting as a good Samaritan to try and stop a fight between strangers and was himself left badly injured. Two other men and a woman face the same allegation – another man who had been charged has since died.