A thug who beat a British grandmother to death when he spotted extra cash in her purse as she handed over €50 he had asked to borrow has been convicted of murder by a Spanish judge.
Frail Margaret McNulty’s trusted Dutch handyman beat her to death weeks before her 71st birthday after going to her Spanish villa to borrow cash.
Evil Nicolas Pieter Pijnenborgh, a ‘friend of four years’ of the widowed grandmother-of-five, grabbed his expat victim round the neck from behind as she made him coffee and threw her to the ground before kicking and punching her repeatedly and stamping on her head and chest.
He squeezed his hands around mother-of-two Margaret’s throat as she lay dying from injuries including a fractured sternum and broken spine.
Thug Nicolas Pijnenborgh (pictured) beat kind-hearted British grandmother Margaret McNulty to death at her Spanish retirement villa in 2019 while borrowing money from her after he spotted extra cash in her purse
Last night Pijnenborgh, who pretended to locals he was called Iwan Mennekee, was facing 30 years behind bars after being convicted of robbing and murdering Margaret.
A Spanish judge is expected to sentence him in the next fortnight after jurors found him guilty following a three-day trial.
Margaret’s doting daughter Cheryl Edmondson, in court in Elche near Alicante with her brother David Parker to see Pijnenborgh convicted, said: ‘It makes me sick to know how badly that horrible, evil man hurt mum.
‘I can’t understand how a human being could do something like this to another person.
‘Mum had five grandchildren who loved her dearly. It’s beyond words.’
State prosecutor Miguel Catala Alcaniz demanded the trial judge sentence Margaret’s killer to 25 years for her murder and five years for robbing her in her home in the small town of Granja de Rocamora a 20-minute drive from Elche.
Frail Margaret McNulty’s trusted Dutch handyman beat her to death weeks before her 71st birthday after going to her home to borrow cash. Pictured: Margaret McNulty
Jurors heard the 6ft, 16st brute subjected the 8st 9lbs, 5ft 2in OAP to the stomach-turning attack to steal just £500.
He struck as her guard was down in her kitchen after watching her pull a €50 note out of the purse where she kept the extra cash.
The prosecutor told the nine-strong jury: ‘The accused, motivated by the intention of ending his victim’s life, or at least fully conscious of the risk to her life his actions entailed, took advantage of the fact her back was turned.
‘He grabbed her round the neck and threw her on the kitchen floor and as his victim lay still on the ground, punched and kicked her repeatedly as well as stamping on her head, face and chest to ensure the success of his lethal actions.’
The lawyer said in court: ‘Margaret’s killer was motivated by the intention to obtain an illicit economic benefit at someone else’s cost. He went to her house when he knew she’d be alone.’
Mrs McNulty, whose second husband died in a motorcycle accident two years after they emigrated to Spain in 2003 from Heysham, Lancashire, suffered multiple injuries including brain trauma, a broken jaw, several broken ribs, a fractured sternum, a broken spine and myocardial rupture.
Pictured: Margaret’s home in the small town of Granja de Rocamora, a 20-minute drive from Elche in Spain
Her killer, 49 at the time of the attack on November 16, 2019, is thought to have been held around two months later, although Costa Blanca detectives only went public with the arrest the following July.
He pleaded drug addiction to try to get a shorter sentence after a suspected failed attempt to strike an out-of-court deal and do just 15 years in prison.
Son David, a 50-year-old process engineer from Morecambe, Lancashire, said after the guilty verdict on September 17: ‘The last two years have been the most harrowing and hardest of my life.
‘I can’t criticise the Spanish police because they got their man and my mum’s killer is going to spend a long time in prison, although nearly two years have passed and for us it’s taken too long to get to where we are.
‘But we’ve not felt we’ve been treated as victims of crime. We’ve had to fight from day one to get information on what happened to my mum and what was happening with the court investigation.
‘No-one’s ever come forward to say “This is the process, this is what happens, here’s someone to help you through everything”. There’s been absolutely nothing.
Jurors heard the 6ft, 16st brute subjected the 8st 9lbs, 5ft 2in OAP to the stomach-turning attack to steal just £500. Pictured: Pijnenborgh arrives at court for his trial
‘I’m bitter about the way we’ve been treated. If it was a Spanish family I think it would have been totally different.
‘We hired a lawyer at the start with a view to privately prosecuting our mum’s killer alongside the state prosecutor which is something that can be done in Spain.
‘But we had to part company with him after a few months because we learnt the final bill was going to be around £25,000 and we just couldn’t afford that.
‘Everything from the beginning about my mum’s murder was hush-hush.
‘We flew out straight away obviously when we discovered she had died but weren’t even told she had been murdered for nearly a couple of weeks and just before we were due to cremate her.
‘We thought she’d had a fall or something and when interviewed by the police they said nothing about a criminal case.
‘We were going to cremate my mum in line with her wishes but were told they weren’t going to release the body.
‘The police only told us it was criminal when they called us back to the police station and said we had to bury my mum’s body and couldn’t cremate her but ordered us not to tell anyone.
‘They were obviously looking for suspects and wanted to preserve her body intact but I couldn’t have been a suspect because I live in Morecambe in the UK and nor could Cheryl because she lives in Wales.
‘It wasn’t until a couple of months later in early 2020 that we heard someone had been arrested and people were allowed to talk about it.
Margaret’s doting daughter Cheryl Edmondson (right) and her brother David Parker (left) were both in attendance at court to witness Pijnenborgh’s conviction
‘I don’t know how they expected me to keep it a secret from my family that my mum had been murdered. How could they?’
He added: ‘My mum and stepdad bought the house she was murdered in when it was derelict and did it up,’ David said in a moving interview before flying back to the UK at the weekend after Margaret’s killer was convicted ahead of his delayed sentencing by the trial judge.
‘She was trying to sell it and I think she knew in her own mind she needed to so she could move to a town because of her health and age, but I don’t think she really wanted to and she was finding that bit difficult.
‘She was loving it in Spain. She wanted to spend the rest of her life here.
‘She met Iwan as we knew this guy through a mutual friend.
‘I met him a few times when I flew to Spain to see mum because he’d been around a few years. He played the guitar and he seemed okay but it takes all types.
Pictured: Pijnenborgh is led into the courtroom for his three-day trial
‘He smoked a bit of dope but wasn’t in debt and didn’t have any addictions as far as I know although I didn’t know him well to be honest.
‘When we finally found out my mum had been murdered, we were told they’d arrested a Dutch guy.
‘The police didn’t tell us the name but that made me guess it was probably him.
‘I kick myself now because there’s times I should have spoken to mum more on the phone and didn’t.
‘A friend of my mum’s who she paid to take her to the shops and do some cleaning, told us she had died.
‘My mum had suffered a brain aneurysm a few years ago so had been forced to give up driving and that’s why she needed the help.
‘That friend was the one who discovered her and called police and then phoned another friend of mum’s we’re friends with who rang me.
Margaret had only been weeks away from her 71 birthday when she was killed
‘I suspect they knew what had happened but those friends weren’t able to tell us anything because they were basically sworn to secrecy and told point-blank they’d be arrested if they spoke about it.
‘The friend who called us said mum may have had a fall. That’s how I remember it.’
‘I’ve been angry for the 18 months since our mum was killed and that’s partly because of the way we’ve been treated.
‘The police have done their job and we’re glad the monster who did this to our mum will get a long sentence.
‘He was trying to claim he was a drug addict and get a shorter sentence and then strike a deal for a sentence of 15 years which my sister and I would have found appalling.
‘I’m not sure if it should have been the police’s responsibility to treat us like the victims we are or the Spanish government’s responsibility but it should have been someone’s.
‘Even the British consulate was not that much use and only put us in contact with a victim support charity after a lot of pushing.
‘I got emailed a document a few weeks ago in Spanish which turned out to be a court summons telling me I had to appear in court on September 14 and if I didn’t attend I could possibly end up with a fine of between £170 and £4,200.
‘There was no explanation with it. If it had gone into my spam folder I wouldn’t have known about it.’
Cheryl, 49, who lives in Marloes, Pembrokeshire, said: ‘We turned up on the opening day of the trial to sort out the summons but were never allowed into the court until the second day and had to sit in a corridor outside the courtroom for nine hours while other people gave their testimony.
‘To make things worse they stopped for a break at one point and decided to bring my mum’s murderer out to go to the toilet and walked him right past us in the corridor we were all stood in.
‘We could have stayed in court after we testified as character witnesses but we didn’t have a translator and didn’t have a clue what was going on.
‘Mum was a single parent for a lot of our childhood because her and our dad split when we were babies so she brought us up alone and taught me the respect I give to people.
‘I always knew her as being strong-willed. It’s an awful way for her life to have ended.’