By Constantinos Psillides
CHRISTOS Eleftheriou, the 35-year-old man who shot and killed his former wife in Kornos on Wednesday afternoon and then himself, had anger issues and was extremely jealous of her, friends of the family said on Thursday.
At 3.30pm on Wednesday Eleftheriou had gone to pick up his two kids from his ex-wife, Stavroula Florou, 31, but the children had refused to go with him.
Eleftheriou went outside, took a loaded shotgun from his car and shot Florou, injuring her 39-year-old partner and 80-year-old grandmother who were also present at the scene. Stavroulla Florou died in hospital at around 10pm.
Christos Eleftheriou fled the scene but was found dead in his car in a wooded area between Kornos and Delikipos just before 7pm., near the Archangelos monastery. He had killed himself.
According to state pathologist Sofoklis Sofokleous, Eleftheriou died from a trauma to the head, caused by a point-blank shotgun blast. Sofokleous wrote in his report that Eleftheriou appeared to have put the gun in his mouth. The autopsy on his former wife is scheduled for 9.30am on Friday.
A friend of the family told the Cyprus Mail that Christos’ behaviour was always erratic and that he had been known to have anger issues. He added that the killer was jealous of his wife and that he was prone to domestic violence when they were living together.
“He was extremely jealous of his wife. When they were married he made her life a living hell. He used to beat her all the time up to the point that she couldn’t take it anymore and had to divorce him,” said the friend, adding that Eleftheriou never really got over her. “He talked about her all the time. He was still very jealous. I think he that’s why he decided to kill her. Why else would he have a loaded shotgun with him?”
According to police sources, the couple split three years ago. Florou had secured a restraining order against Eleftheriou, which he violated in 2011 when he gained entrance to her house by jumping the fence into her garden. Florou took the case to court once more and Eleftheriou was sentenced to two months in jail, suspended for three years.
But Eleftheriou seemed to take a turn for the better a year ago, when he was committed to a psychiatric clinic to deal with his problems. According to police sources, Eleftheriou was committed by his family, following his refusal to take prescribed medication.
“He went to deal with his issues but he was released a week after he was committed. They made him take his meds and when he was on them he was OK. I mean, there were periods over the last year that he seemed to be doing fine and getting on with his life. My guess is that he stopped taking them again. That’s why he went on a rampage. Maybe if his family kept a closer eye at him, making sure he kept taking his meds this might never had happened,” said the friend.
Eleftheriou was living with his parents in Kornos. He had three other siblings.
Gun-related violence has been on the rise; this is the second incident when a man shot and killed members of his family in the space of only three months. In a similar incident in June, a 41-year-old father of two shot and killed his estranged wife, 35, and his nine-year old daughter using his army issue G3 rifle. He also shot and critically injured his son, 14.
Gun licences are issued by the Police Firearms Registry. Following the filing of the application, the request is forwarded to the local police station where a check is conducted on the applicant.
While hunting licences have to be renewed, a gun permit is never reviewed again.
A police official, who wishes to remain unnamed, told the Cyprus Mail that police will only step in to revoke the gun permit in extraordinary cases.
“If we have a valid suspicion that the gun will be used for a crime, or if the applicant is deemed unstable, police can take the gun away and they have to go to court to take it back.”
The official rejected reports saying that the police knew that Elefthriou was mentally unstable but did nothing to take the gun away. “That’s not the case. Mental Health Services notified the National Guard headquarters, not the police. In October we requested of the Mental Health services to also notify the police when someone is committed or taking medication so we could asses whether we should revoke their gun permit,” said the official.
By Constantinos Psillides