Cyprus Mail
Crime

Video shown in court of argument before Peyia hit and run

Victim Charlie Birch

A video was shown in Paphos criminal court on Tuesday, featuring footage from a bar where an altercation took place on the night of June 23, 2018, hours before British tourist Robert James (Charlie) Birch died after being run over by a car.

The main witness was Kyriacos Demetriades, a cousin of Kleanthis Demetriades, owner of the bar where the incident occurred.

In the courtroom the prosecution ran a video taken from inside the bar at the time, with the witness narrating the events as the film rolled.

Demetriades said that on the night in question he was in the bar and, being friendly with the patrons, he began chatting with Birch and his English male friend.

At one point Birch told Demetriades that he was going to strike Demetrios Elidzides, 35, who was also in the bar at the time.

Elidzides, a Georgian national, is the defendant in the case, charged with the manslaughter of Birch and the attempted murder of Birch’s friend.

Demetriades asked Birch why he wanted to hit Elidzides, and Birch said it was because he had earlier seen the 35-year-old strike the woman who was sitting with Elidzides at a nearby table.

The witness said he told Birch to do nothing, and that he would report to the bar owner what Birch just told him.

But by the time Demetriades came back, Birch had already struck Elidzides, who was seen lying on the ground.

Birch, his friend, and Elidzides then stepped outside, and Birch and Elidzides began fighting.

Later Elidzides asked permission to re-enter the bar so that he could take his female companion and leave – which they did.

Demetriades was next cross-examined by the defendant’s lawyer Savvas Matsas. The lawyer put it to the witness that on the night Birch was dancing with the defendant’s female companion – suggesting this was what caused the friction.

The witness responded he did not see Birch dancing or interacting with the woman.

The lawyer then put it that Birch was among customers in the bar who were using ‘balloons’ containing laughing gas. He suggested that Birch and his friend were both inebriated as well as under the influence of narcotic substances.

The witness said he was aware that customers would bring these ‘balloons’ to the bar, but did not know what was in them.

Matsas insisted that Birch and his friend were heavily intoxicated, having consumed six to seven drinks. Responding, Demetriades said that not was his impression.

Next taking the stand was Andreas Shiambas, a professional fisherman. His boat was anchored at the Ayios Georghios harbour.

Around 2am on June 24, Shiambas said he spotted the defendant Elidzides and a woman inside a car which was submerged in the water at the harbour.

He ran to their aid. Elidzides then asked Shiambas to drive them to a hotel, but Shiambas refused until the police and ambulance arrived. The couple eventually left the scene on foot.

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, 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.

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

The defendant has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, but prosecutors argue he deliberately ran over Birch and his friend following the earlier altercation.

The trial continues on June 11.

 

 

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