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Double murder defendant gets four years in jail (Updated)

The scene of the double murder in Strovolos (Christos Theodorides)

One of the defendants in the Strovolos double murder case was on Thursday sentenced to four years in jail on a single charge of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Sarah Shams, 21, had recently agreed to plead guilty to the charge and to cooperate with the state in prosecuting three other defendants, including her former boyfriend.

Following her plea, prosecutors dropped charges including premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit felony.

Shams, along with main defendant Loizos Tzionis, 33, her boyfriend at the time, his 22-year-old friend Marios Hadjixenophontos, and his 23-year-old half-brother, Lefteris Solomou, had been charged with killing Giorgos Hadjigeorgiou, 60, and his wife Dina Sergiou, 59 in April 2018.

The three face two counts of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit felony, burglary, robbery and abduction.

Premeditated murder carries an automatic life sentence.

“The case at hand is marked by the tragic conclusion of the murder of two people inside their home, without however being linked to the defendant’s criminal action,” the court said.

“Despite this, we cannot disregard that the defendant participated in a conspiracy to commit robbery, an offence in which violence or threat of violence is a component and where the consequences cannot be specified beforehand.”

The court said it took into account that she had participated in a conspiracy involving more than two people, with an organised action plan, and despite not being the mastermind, she had undertaken a particular role.

During the commission of the crime, Shams remained at her residence and afterwards she accompanied one of the other defendants to the scene so that they could collect the valuables.

They had to change their plans when they saw a police patrol by chance.

Shams’ defence had previously told the court that Tzionis was a turning point for her that would scar her life forever.

The court heard she went along quietly with the robbery Tzionis had planned, a testament to her bad mental and physical state.

Because of him, she had given up her studies and abandoned her parents’ home to go live with him, while getting hooked on drugs.

Tzionis treated her badly, oftentimes humiliating her. He was pathologically jealous, destroying two mobile phones and a tablet during fits of jealousy.

Her defence claimed Tzionis locked her in the house, beat her and raped her. He even raped her in Ayia Napa just hours after the crime, the court heard.

Despite the abuse, Shams loved Tzionis, but was also afraid. When she fell ill with stomach problems, the defendant only visited her once in hospital for 10 minutes, to take some cash.

She was trying to help him with his drug problem and every time she tried to leave him, he would not let her.

 

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