A GRANDFATHER left stranded in Tenerife after being cleared of murder is just days away from returning home to his loving family.
Stephen Johnson was found not guilty earlier this month of the fatal stabbing of a Moroccan man, in the resort of Playa de Las Américas.
The unanimous verdict at a hearing in Santa Cruz followed a three-and-a-half year ordeal on bail on the holiday island.
The 56-year-old, who always maintained he only 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, 31, also cleared over the 2008 attack, was allowed to fly back to Liverpool, Stephen was “left in limbo” by the Spanish authorities.
However, the Wearside businessman is now making final preparations to fly home after winning his latest legal fight.
“I’m so relieved it’s all over,” he said. “It has taken a long, long time to get everything sorted.
“In the end, they served me with a sentence for ‘participating in a brawl’ and fined me 1,100 euros.
“But I don’t have any criminal record.”
Stephen, who runs Stepys Coaches and used to sponsor the Durham and District Sunday Football League, faced a race against time to complete the necessary paperwork before the courts closed for a month-long summer break.
“There was a real danger I would have been stuck out here until September if I didn’t get everything done by Friday,” he said.
“It pretty much closes down after that.
“But I’ve got my passport back and the flight is booked.
“I have a few bits and pieces to sort out with my lawyer, but that’s about it.”
He hopes to be reunited with wife Joan on Monday.
“It’s fantastic news,” said Joan. “It seems to have dragged on forever.
“The first available flight back is on Sunday. Because of the school holidays, they are all full.
“I just can’t wait till he gets home.”