PHIL Jones was a “huge” presence on the county’s rugby fields, but this week he is starting a 17-year prison sentence in Spain.

The former forward with Luctonians and Hereford has been convicted of killing a tenant at his Costa Blanca holiday home over a rent dispute.

Jones, 53, of Lower Sodgeley Farm, Kingsland, was extradited to Spain in 2010 after his arrest in the county on international warrant.

At the time of his arrest Jones was serving a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, for handling stolen goods and owning firearms and ammunition without a licence.

This week, a court in Elche, near Alicante, convicted Jones of the homicide of Domingo Torresgrosa, as well as breaking and entering.

Jones, who has been held in custody since his extradition, was sentenced to 15 years for homicide – a specific charge under Spanish law – and two years for breaking and entering.

The bound, decomposing body of the victim, a tenant said to owe Jones rent, was found dumped in remote woodland in 2009.

Jones was interviewed and identified as the prime suspect after DNA samples from Mr Torresgrosa were found in his car, but he fled Spain before being charged.

A Spanish judge issued an international warrant that saw Jones arrested near Leominster in March 2010 and extradited in May that year.

At the trial, Jones denied killing his tenant but did admit entering the property and cleaning it with bleach.

Jones played second-row for Luctonians from 1986 and was a stalwart of Hereford Rugby Club’s campaign for promotion to the national league in the 1990s.

Former team-mates recalled Jones as a “useful player” with a “huge physical presence”.

The international warrant for Jones was passed to the Serious Organised Crime Agency which led the operation that saw him arrested in Perseverance Road, Leominster.

Since extradition he has been held in custody in Spain awaiting trial.