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Crime Cyprus

In UK, friends pay tribute to hit-and-run victim (Updated)

The scene of the crime (Photo: CNA)

Police were on Monday set to question a 32-year-old British man who was injured on Sunday in what appeared to be a deliberate hit-and-run in Peyia, while in the UK, tributes were pouring for his companion Charlie Birch, 39, who was killed in the incident.

According to the UK newspaper The Mirror, Birch, from Powys, Wales who has not yet been officially named as the victim, but whose identity has been published locally in Wales and on social media by friends, was a builder, the father of at least two children and a keen golfer,

The 32-year-old had been unable to make a statement until now as he was being treated in Paphos hospital after the incident in the early hours of Sunday along the Peyia-Ayios Georghios road in Paphos. A man and a woman were remanded for eight days on Sunday in connection with the incident, which appeared to have followed an earlier altercation involving them at a bar in Coral Bay.

The Daily Mail quoted family friend Graham Breeze saying: “Charlie was very well-known and well-liked here. It is a terrible tragedy for the family.” It said he went on “the dream family holiday” with his two daughters, his mother and other members of the family after saving up for a year.

Breeze, a town councillor, said: ‘It’s been a tragic end to what was to have been a perfect family holiday. It’s a very difficult situation.

“Obviously, Charlie was on what should have been an idyllic holiday with his two daughters and his mother and his extended family. It’s a tragic situation really. The town will be very supportive.

“It’s a tragic situation – a needless loss of a young life. It cast a dark shadow over the town of Welshpool.’

Friend Cheryl Griffiths described him as a “loyal friend, a lovable rogue and an awesome dad!’ She said: “Life changes in a blink of the eye. Rest in peace Charlie Birch. Gone but never forgotten.”

The Guardian on Monday also cited friends paying tribute to Birch, on social media

One wrote: “Rest in Peace Charlie Birch, you were one of few people in Welshpool who I loved and adored!!!! You looked after me regardless of my many short comings!”

Another friend said: “Terrible news about Charlie Birch today RIP mate. My sincere condolences to all his family at this awful time.”

Another friend said: “One thing on my mind today. A loyal friend, a lovable rogue and an awesome dad! Life changes in a blink of the eye … rest in peace Charlie Birch. Gone but never forgotten …”

Another, who had not seen Birch for a few years, posted: “Rip Charlie Birch, very sad news, hadn’t seen you for a few years, but always had a natter when we bumped into each other, fly high with your old best buddy George, my heart goes out to your family and friends.”

A spokesman for the Foreign Office told the paper: “We are offering advice and support to the family of a British man following his death in Cyprus and are in contact with the Cypriot authorities.”

Police were alerted to an accident at 3am on Sunday when someone reported that two people were lying injured on the road. The two men were taken to Paphos hospital where Birch was pronounced dead on arrival and the second man was hospitalised but is now out of danger.

From the evidence, it appears that prior to the hit-and-run there had been an altercation at a bar in Coral Bay during which the two victims reportedly tried to defend the woman who was later arrested, who was being abused by the 35-year-old suspect.

The couple then left the bar and drove off.

According to a police spokesman, they will examine CCTV footage from the bar where the fight took place and check if there is video footage from the Peyia-Ayios Georghios road in Paphos.

The 35-year-old man and the 23-year-old woman were arrested on Sunday and remanded for eight days. The pair are facing charges of premeditated murder and attempted murder. They were brought before the Paphos district court and remanded.

The car believed to have been involved in the hit-and-run was found abandoned at dawn at the Ayios Georghios harbour. It was in the sea and had to be removed by the fire service. Speculation suggests the pair had tried to wash away the evidence of the hit-and-run.

Witnesses told police the man and woman were both in the water and that people had helped the woman out when she called for help. The man got out by himself. They both then left the area on foot but were picked up by police shortly afterwards.

Police said on Monday they had admitted their involvement in the incident but made claims which are being investigated.


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