Pair issued with arrest warrants over crash

EUROPEAN arrest warrants have been issued against two young men from Essex in connection with the death of a Cypriot teenager, it emerged last night.Luke Atkinson and Michael Binnington were sentenced in their absence to three years in prison for the manslaughter of 17-year-old moped rider Christos Papiris.

James Hore

EUROPEAN arrest warrants have been issued against two young men from Essex in connection with the death of a Cypriot teenager, it emerged last night.

Luke Atkinson and Michael Binnington were sentenced in their absence to three years in prison for the manslaughter of 17-year-old moped rider Christos Papiris.

The Witham pair had been passengers in a car being driven by their uncle, Julian Harrington, when it hit the teenager's moped in the resort of Protaras in August 2006.

Harrington is serving a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty to manslaughter but Atkinson and Binnington were acquitted and returned to Essex.

However in January a successful prosecution appeal overturned the acquittals and last month the Supreme Court in Cyprus handed them three-year terms for culpable manslaughter and one year for GBH, to run concurrently.

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Local arrest warrants were granted when the 23-year-olds were sentenced but because they have not given themselves up the prosecution asked for EU arrest warrants which were issued on Friday.

An extradition hearing should be heard within 21 days of the arrests being made and a British judge will then have to decide if their conduct amounts to an extradition offence.

Atkinson's mother, Averil, said last night that her son would go voluntarily to a police station in London by arrangement.

She said: “It is all in the hands of the lawyers now but we will definitely be fighting it and there is no way they will go voluntarily.

“I don't think they will ever forget about what happened but life has to go on - you can't just sit at home and wait.

“The whole thing has been dragged out from the day it happened.”

The original court case heard that Harrington, a fence maker from Witham, had “rammed” Mr Papiris' moped in the resort of Protaras as part of a revenge attack after one of their friends was hurt in a fight with some locals outside a nightclub.

But the father-of-one denied the incident was malicious and said he only collided with the moped because it was heading towards his car the wrong way down a one-way street.

Neither of the youngsters on the moped was wearing a helmet when the car hit the moped, leading to the death of Papiris who was riding pillion.

Harrington entered a guilty plea on the understanding he would be given a more lenient sentence and was devastated when he was sentenced to 15 years.

Braintree MP Brooks Newmark has raised concerns about the way in which the entire case has been handled.

He told MPs earlier this year: “When the assize court found the two men innocent, the prosecution appealed against the decision so that the desired result could be achieved.

“However, rather than hold a retrial, the supreme court substituted its own verdict. Luke and Michael were convicted by three judges who had never heard the evidence against them in open court. The decision to substitute a verdict instead of ordering a retrial is extremely unusual in most jurisdictions. Indeed, I have been told that it is without precedent in most banana republics, let alone established western democracies.”

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