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Crime Cyprus

Witnesses who found British hit-and-run victims testify at Paphos trial

Killed, Charlie Birch

Two more witnesses appeared at Paphos court on Tuesday in the ongoing trial of a Georgian man accused of running over and killing British tourist Robert James (Charlie) Birch in Peyia in June 2018.

Witness Marios Nicolaides told the court that on the night of June 24 while returning home from work at a restaurant, with a friend, after 2am, at some point on the Peyia-Ayios Georghios road in the direction of Paphos, they came across two injured people on the road. His friend called an ambulance.

Nicolaides said he did not know what preceded what he witnessed on the road. Prosecutors showed the witness photos of the spot and he confirmed that was where he came across the two injured men. Responding to questions, he told the court both of the men were speaking fluent English. The second witness Kyriakos Matis was the person who called the ambulance. He said the injured man had said they had been hit by a passing car.

Demetrios Elidzides, 35, a Georgian national, is accused of murdering the 39-year-old Birch and of the attempted murder of his friend, 32.

The suspect previously pleaded not guilty to manslaughter but authorities believe was a deliberate assault following an earlier altercation. He has also denied attempted murder.

Police said they received a call at 2.30am on the night, informing them that two men, pedestrians, were lying injured on the tarmac on the Peyia-Ayios Georghios road.

On arriving at the scene, they found Birch lying dead on the ground. Next to him was his injured friend. Birch, a builder from Powys, Wales, died from multiple injuries.

His friend told the authorities he believed the driver had deliberately run 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.

Some 43 witnesses are due to appear in court throughout the trial, including ten police officers.

The trial continues on May 21.


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