The owner of the land where Spanish toddler Julen fell into a borehole leading to his death has been handed a one-year suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay over 700,000 EUR in compensation.
Landowner David Serrano was given a suspended sentence of one year in prison and ordered to pay 180,000 EUR in compensation to the Julen’s parents, Victoria Garcia and Jose Rosello, after pleading guilty to manslaughter at a court in Malaga.
Judge Ignacio Navas also ordered Serrano to pay 663,982 EUR in compensation to the regional government of Andalusia to cover the cost of the rescue operation.
He will not serve time behind bars because in Spain sentences of under two years are suspended if the guilty party does not have a criminal record. All parties agreed to the sentence being suspended.
The toddler fell into a borehole on Serrano’s land in the town of Totalan, in the southern Spanish province of Malaga in the Andalusia region and died in the narrow hole before his body was lifted to the surface 13 days later in a case which made international headlines.
Serrano said during the trial that he had never wanted anything to happen to the boy and apologised for what had happened.
Serrano commented after the sentence “I have apologised with my heart. I have removed a huge weight from myself, although I know it will always be there”.
Local media report an anonymous businessman has given 25,000 EUR to Serrano to pay the first instalment of compensation as he saw the punishment as unfair.
In Autumn 2019, Serrano said he was insolvent and claimed he does not have any income or properties and that in the last three years he only worked for 69 days.
His property in Totalan has been seized and its value is only a small part of the compensation.
Prosecutors had asked for a prison sentence of between three and three-and-a-half years in prison.
He was charged with manslaughter as he did not let the toddler parents know about the presence of the well and it was not properly covered. The defence placed the blame of the toddler’s death on the firefighters during the rescue operation and the parents for not taking enough care with their child.
Julen’s death made worldwide headlines after he fell down an uncovered borehole just 25 centimetres (10 inches) in diameter on a day out with his family in the countryside.
The youngster was stuck in the well for 13 days before his body was brought to the surface.