Residents and authorities in Peyia are shocked at what appears to be a deliberate hit and run that took place in the area early on Sunday morning.
Robert Birch, known as Charlie, 39, a British tourist from Welshpool in Powys died after being hit by a car at around 2.30am on Sunday while walking along the Ayios Georgios road in Peyia with his brother in law, named in the British press as Bill Pritchard, 32.
Peyia is home to the largest British expat community on the island and residents say they have been hard hit by this atrocious crime.
Peyia resident Graham Gurley, who set the Peyia Community Services website dedicated to community matters, security and information, told the Cyprus Mail that such a crime is unheard of in Paphos or Cyprus in general.
“It is shocking and very unusual. People are very upset and stunned and waiting for the facts to be released. How do you explain this kind of behaviour? It’s a tragedy that someone lost his life.”
He said that people are used to walking around Peyia safely and that once the facts are established, a Go Fund Me page could be set up for the family and children of the victims, which Peyia residents would fully support.
“Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.”
Local councillor Linda Leblanc said the incident is indicative of a bigger picture where people are quick to fly into a rage at the slightest thing and added that there is no justification for murdering someone in cold blood in this way.
“We are losing our respect for others and some people have such short fuses before they blow up. There is absolutely no justification for this shocking act and it appears to be a deliberate murder, according to the facts released by the police so far.”
She added that residents of the community are upset and appalled by the crime.
Peyia home owner Rosie Gibson-Brown said: “There has been an immediate outpouring of support from residents that can’t equate something like this with the gentle, kind Cyprus we know.”
The two men were taken to Paphos general hospital where Birch was pronounced dead on arrival. A post mortem on Monday found that he died from multiple injuries caused by a vehicle.
A 35-year-old man and his girlfriend, 23, were arrested and remanded for eight days after abandoning a rental vehicle which had been driven into the sea at Ayios Georgios harbour. However, on Monday, lawyer Anastasia Papadopoulou said the 23-year-old woman should not be kept in custody, arguing that it appears she is also a victim.
Gibson- Brown said that the police were quick to help, and she hopes that the justice system will deal with the matter swiftly.
“This crime has hit me so much harder than all the violence in the UK, because this is not the Cypriot way. I have no doubt that Cypriots are just as distressed as the British residents and thinking of the victim’s family. His children have lost their daddy.”
The victims and other patrons of a busy bar on the Coral Bay strip, had become involved in an altercation with a man who was abusing his girlfriend. The couple had left the bar before the victims when the scuffle died down.