Overseas jail shock for two cousins

TWO cousins have been sentenced to three years in jail following the death of a 17-year-old moped rider in Cyprus.

James Hore

TWO men from Essex have been sentenced to three years in a Cyprus prison.

Cousins Luke Atkinson and Michael Binnington from Witham were given the term in their absence this morning following the death of 17-year-old moped rider Christos Papiris.

The pair were passengers in a car being driven by their uncle, Julian Harrington, when the incident happened in August 2006.

After several months on remand the pair returned to the UK while Harrington changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to 15 years.

But this January there was a prosecution appeal and the two 23-year-olds were told their acquittals had been overturned.

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A judge today handed them a three-year term for culpable manslaughter and one year for GBH, with the sentences to concurrently.

It now means that an extradition bid could be launched because it is unlikely the men will voluntarily go out to Cyprus.

Richard Howitt MEP said: “The verdict that should have been given today should not be against Luke and Michael, but against a judicial process in which they thought they'd been acquitted and then were subject to a retrial in their absence.

“A fair trial is a fundamental right under the European Convention, and they have every right to fight their extradition in Britain in what appears to be a gross miscarriage of justice.

“The uncle has received what seems a manifestly unfair sentence, and now so too have the nephews.

“If the defence lawyer was only prepared to present his mitigation in written form to avoid open court discussion which he feared would stoke up local sentiment, it only underlines the climate of bias it seems has distorted the entire way with which this case has been dealt.

“As a member of the European Union, Cyprus is required to administer a minimum standard of justice and today they have not done so.”

The court originally heard Harrington, a fence maker from Witham, rammed Mr Papiris' moped in the resort of Protaras as part of a “revenge attack” after another Briton was hurt in a fight outside a local nightclub.

But Mr Papiris had not been involved in the altercation, prosecutors said.

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