Outrage at British stag party who paid homeless man to get name of groom tattooed on his forehead
Anger in Benidorm as Polish national given US$118 by jokers to have face inked
British tourists on a stag party in Benidorm have provoked outrage by paying a homeless man to have the name of the groom tattooed on his forehead, a local business leader has said.
Karen Maling Cowles, the president of the Benidorm British Business Association, said the group gave 34-year-old Tomek, originally from Poland, €100 (US$118) to have “Jamie Blake, North Shields, NE28” inked on his head, although it was not completed because he was in too much pain.
Residents of the Spanish resort criticised the stag group after the tattoo parlour posted a photo on Facebook, since taken down, of Tomek getting the tattoo.
Maling Cowles, who tracked Tomek down after seeing the picture, said: “I was shocked to actually see it staring out at you. On a human level, that’s disgusting; that could be my son. The community is disgusted about it and many tourists too. It’s awful, taking a vulnerable person’s situation and thinking throwing a bit of money gives you a quick bit of fun.”
She said Tomek was jaundiced, had the shakes and told her he was an alcoholic. He said he had walked 2,700km to Benidorm after the collapse of his relationship with his girlfriend, and as a result had back pain which visibly hampered his ability to walk.
He added that after spending some of the money the British tourists had paid him, he was attacked and robbed of the remaining €17 on the beach.
“Anybody comes to offer any homeless person €100, he takes it,” said Maling Cowles, whose husband is a tattoo artist.
“That’s what happens to vulnerable people sadly. He was embarrassed when I approached him because he was covered in sand because he’d been sleeping on the beach. I said, ‘I’m going to do something to try to help you’ and he took my hand and kissed it and said, ‘You’re an angel’.”
Maling Cowles originally planned to raise money to get the offending tattoo removed but after meeting Tomek decided to do more.
“The removal of the tattoo is important because that shows that we do not accept that, but the rest of his life is very important,” she said.
“Getting to know him, his needs are great. I want to get him the help he needs.”
While critical of the men who paid Tomek and the tattoo parlour which took their money, she said there also needed to be a wider conversation about the behaviour of some British tourists overseas. “We need to be looking at why this behaviour is taking place, why it’s OK to do what you like when you’re on holiday,” she said.
The council in Benidorm, which has spent years trying to rebrand itself as a high-end resort instead of a party town, issued warnings in April against tourists engaging in “uncivic behaviour”.