Nicosia district court on Monday found the 23-year-old son of House President Demetris Syllouris guilty of causing the death of a 26-year-old man through negligent, reckless and dangerous driving.
The courtroom was overflowing with relatives and friends of the victim – Sebastian Petros Karapateas – the Syllouris family and members of the press, so much so that the door was left open with many people standing.
Kyriakos Syllouris appeared before judge Pavlos Kyriakides looking gaunt and pale and wearing a dark suit. He showed no emotion as the verdict was read out with his sister standing by his side and his father seated at the back of the court.
The court heard the accident occurred in Kalliopis street, Strovolos at 3.15am on September 21, 2013 when the Mercedes car the then 20-year-old Syllouris was driving collided with a Vespa scooter ridden by Karapateas, fatally injuring him.
Syllouris was breathalysed after the accident but the alcohol reading was zero.
Kyriakides noted in his verdict that the accused had claimed before the court that there was reduced visibility due to parked vehicles in the road where the fatal accident occurred. This was why he had attempted to enter the opposite road diagonally. His claims, however, were not supported by witnesses and experts’ statements in court.
Testimony given by Syllouris, who was the only witness to the accident, was rejected by the judge who described it as unreliable, misleading and contradictory.
“Based on the evidence before me, as it has been assessed, and the findings, I judge that the behaviour displayed in the accused’s driving was dangerous, reckless and imprudent,” said Kyriakides in his decision which took over an hour to read.
“The main cause of the accident was the driving behaviour of the accused.”
The convicted man was taken into a holding room pending his transfer to prison. Members of his family, including his father, were allowed to accompany him into the room.
There were emotional scenes outside the court following the verdict, with Koulla Karapateas, the victim’s mother repeatedly shouting “I’ll still won’t see him again” and crying out to her dead son “I knew you were not to blame Petro, but we needed three years.”
George Karapateas speaking to the Cyprus Mail said he was satisfied with the verdict and hoped the sentence would be fair.
The case, which took nearly three years and two judges to reach a verdict, was adjourned several times with Syllouris changing his plea from an initial not guilty, to guilty, and then back to not guilty.
The judge ordered Syllouris to be held in Nicosia central prisons until Wednesday’s hearing for submission of mitigation arguments by the lawyers of the convicted man, presentation of a report by the welfare office and possible sentencing.
The maximum penalty that can be imposed for careless, reckless and dangerous driving is four years.