A FORMER Wigan Warriors youth player has died after allegedly being viciously beaten by Spanish police.
Holidaymakers said Luke Rhoden, 25, who was on a stag do with a group of Wigan lads, had been behaving erratically minutes before and had leapt from a first-floor balcony at the popular Ibiza Rocks hotel.
Police were called and shocked Brits said Luke, a former Abraham Guest and Winstanley College student, attempted to run away before he was beaten to the ground by five officers with batons late on Tuesday evening.
Horrified tourists who watched from balconies claim the “sustained beating” continued until the victim rolled away – only for two officers to repeatedly stamp on his head.
One onlooker said the attack only stopped when officers were surrounded by revellers with camera phones – but it took half an hour for paramedics to arrive.
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane said: “I was absolutely devastated and saddened when news reached me. He was great lad.”
Luke was in a group including Super League referee George Stokes when tragedy struck late on Tuesday evening. Reports of what happened after he leapt from the balcony then conflict.
Some witnesses say the young man was then set upon by Spanish Civil Guards who battered and restrained him before putting him in an ambulance which took 30 minutes to arrive.
But a hotel spokeswoman confirmed there had been a death and a “balcony incident” but denied police had been involved.
John Morrison, 33, from Poole, Dorset, got a frantic call from his 58-year-old father who witnessed the horrific scene unfold.
Shocked John, whose dad flew home yesterday with his wife and wishes to remain anonymous, said: “He is still very shaken up.
“They are staying in an apartment pretty much opposite Ibiza Rocks – they’ve had quite the week. He heard police sirens underneath their balcony. He went out to the balcony and the police cars came round.
“He saw this guy backing out from the bar by Ibiza Rocks. He was backing off and there were a few police guys in front of him.
“He had gone to run away and that’s when they started giving him a real pasting with batons.
“There was four or five of them. It was sustained.
“Dad said he managed to roll away on the floor and got to the other side of the road and that was when police started stamping on his head – two of them.
“By that time there was a crowd getting up and they were getting restless and that’s when they stopped kicking the guy.”
Tourists said police then moved cars to surround the body which lay in the road in Sant Antoni de Portmany, just before midnight on Tuesday.
John said it was around half an hour before paramedics arrived and they worked for around 45 minutes to revive the man before his body was removed.
Holidaymakers took to social networks to discuss the incident.
Jenny Locke wrote on Facebook: “I can’t believe what we are witnessing right now outside Ibiza Rocks.
“Guardia Civil beating a British citizen to death while he is screaming for help.”
A hotel spokeswoman confirmed there was a “balcony incident” and that the man did not die “on impact” and his death happened outside the hotel.
She said: “We can confirm there was a fatality in Ibiza last night and our sincerest and heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of the individual concerned at this very difficult time.
“We continue to assist the Spanish Police with their investigation and cannot make further comment about the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident until a full inquiry is complete.”
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said it has been informed of the death and was providing assistance to the man’s family.
She said: “We can confirm the death of a British national in Ibiza. We are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time.”
Luke, who was also once a promising basketball player, played in the same junior team as Sam Tomkins at Wigan before moving to Oldham RL.
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane said: “I was absolutely devastated and saddened when news reached me of Luke’s death.
“He was great lad. It’s a real tragedy.
“It is very hard coming to terms with what’s happened because I spent a lot of time working and coaching Luke when he was a young player coming through.
“They were good times and Luke was so keen.
“I coached him at Wigan when he was in the junior ranks at 16s, 17s and 18s level.
“He was a good lad who would look after himself.
“I really feel for his family at this very sad time.”
A Civil Guard source told a national newspaper: “He was a guest at the Ibiza Rocks Hotel.
“We were called at 10.30 when he jumped from a first-floor room and landed on a patio below.
“Our officers restrained him and put him in an ambulance but he died in the ambulance before it left the area of the hotel.
“The autopsy will establish the cause of death and whether drink and drugs were involved.”
Former Wigan first team player Ben Davies, who is now at Halifax, tweeted: “Real sad to hear about an old team mate of mine passing away while on holiday. Top lad and a funny, funny man. RIP luke rhoden”
Tributes to Luke also flooded in to the Wigan Today website and Facebook page.
His auntie, Denise Scott, said: “This is one of my lovely nephews Luke. Anyone who new Luke would know he was one of the loveliest people you could ever wish to meet, he was a very kind and gentle talented young man, and his death has ripped the family apart, he will be missed so very much. Rest in peace to a very special nephew x.”
Gill Dillon wrote: “What shocking news. Luke was a great lad. My thoughts and prayers to his family and friends at this sad time, RIP Luke x”
TrueWarrior posted: “Distraught isn’t the word. I played with and against Luke for the Wigan Service area, Wigan warriors and at amateur level. Brilliant player and an even better lad. RIP mate.”