Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Stage fall death ruled 'unlawful'

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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