Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Stage fall death ruled 'unlawful'

Jonathan Hiles, of Cardiff, died in hospital in Athens, the day before his 19th birthday
Jonathan Hiles, of Cardiff, died in hospital in Athens, the day before his 19th birthday

A teenager who was killed on holiday after falling from a stage following a single punch was unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.

Jonathan Hiles was dancing in a nightclub with friends on the Greek island of Zante in July 2007 when he was hit in the face.

The hearing heard the 18-year-old had confronted a fellow reveller who had urinated on them in the Rescue nightclub before being felled. He was rushed to a hospital in Athens where he later died - the day before his 19th birthday.

Holidaymaker Andrew Symeou, 25, from north London, was later extradited to Greece, where he spent a year in custody over the killing before eventually being cleared of manslaughter.

A coroner has now ruled that Jonathan, of Cardiff, was unlawfully killed - but not by Mr Symeou.

During the emotionally charged hearing, Mr Hiles's father Denzil, 62, confronted Mr Symeou in court, calling the 25-year-old university graduate a "liar" and saying he wanted to "string him up".

Mr Symeou said: "I have never ever hit anyone in my life. And I have never, ever urinated in a public place, that's animal behaviour. I sympathise with Mr Hiles's family. To lose a son is the worst thing to happen in someone's life. But I did not kill your son. I am telling the truth."

Returning a verdict of unlawful killing at Cardiff Coroner's Court, coroner Mary Hassell said she was satisfied of friend Mark O'Gorman's evidence that Mr Hiles had been punched - but was certain that man was not Mr Symeou.

Ms Hassell said that "Jonathan Hiles's death was tragic for his family - but they were not the only ones who suffered."

She added: "I do not know who the person was that punched Mr Hiles, but I am satisfied it was not Andrew Symeou." Ms Hassell launched a stinging attack on the way the Greek police had conducted their investigation - describing it as a "mish-mash of information lumped together".

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