Cyprus Mail
Crime Cyprus

Paphos hit and run suspect denies downgraded manslaughter charge

Flowers and Welsh flags at the spot where Charlie Birch was killed (Joy Neiger)

A 35-year-old man pleaded not guilty to manslaughter on Tuesday in the death of a British tourist who had been hit by a car in Peyia in June, in what authorities believe was a deliberate assault following an altercation.

Prosecutors had charged the defendant, a Georgian national, with premeditated murder in September but the charge has been downgraded to manslaughter, which he again denied.

If convicted, premeditated murder carries an automatic life sentence while manslaughter carries a maximum of life in jail.

The 35-year-old claims he hit the two men by accident.

The court adjourned for March 12. The defendant will remain in custody until then.

The incident took place in the morning hours of Sunday, June 24.

At around 2.30am police were notified that two men, pedestrians, were lying injured on the tarmac on the Peyia-Ayios Georghios road in Paphos.

On arriving at the scene, police found a 39-year-old lying dead on the ground. Next to him was another man, aged 32.

The deceased was Charlie Birch, a builder from Powys, Wales, who died from multiple injuries.

His friend, a 32-year-old identified as ‘Will’ in the British press, was also injured but his condition was not life-threatening. He later told the media he believes the driver deliberately ran them down.

The car, which was driven by the suspect who also had his girlfriend with him, was later found abandoned at the Ayios Georghios harbour. It was in the sea and had to be pulled out by the fire service.

The suspect and his girlfriend left the harbour on foot and were picked up on the road shortly afterwards by police.

Police suspect that dumping the car in the sea was an attempt to conceal evidence.

Before the incident, there had been an altercation at a bar in Coral Bay during which the two Britons reportedly tried to defend the woman, who was allegedly being abused by the suspect.

Police initially arrested the 23-year-old woman but she was released later as no incriminating evidence turned up against her.

Police said she would likely be called as a prosecution witness in the case.

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