Twenty-two-year-old Marios Hadjixenophontos was jailed for 15 years on Thursday after he was found guilty of manslaughter in the double murder of a couple in Nicosia in 2018 because he had aided the killer “every step of the way” and decimated an entire family.
The family of the accused reportedly said they would appeal the decision.
Hadjixenophontos was the last of four defendants on trial for the murder of Giorgos Hadjigeorgiou, 60, and his wife Dina Sergiou, 59, in 2018. The couple were found in the bedroom of their Strovolos home on April 18, stabbed multiple times.
He had been acquitted of a premeditated murder charge that carries a mandatory life sentence but was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter. He was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit felony, robbery, burglary, abduction and the transportation of offensive weapons.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for each of the manslaughter charges, nine years for robbery and five years for abduction. No sentences were imposed for the other charges. His sentences will run concurrently.
The president of the criminal court, Haris Poyiadjis, said that the seriousness of the offences committed was taken into account, given that within the space of only a few minutes, a heinous crime was committed and “an entire family was decimated” with the parents “slaughtered in their own home while their underage son, also a victim, was abducted from his bed by an unknown person holding a knife, was coldly informed that his parents had been murdered and locked in an underground cellar from which he managed to escape and see his parents brutally murdered in a pool of blood.”
Although Hadjixenophontos was not the mastermind, the judge said, he nevertheless assisted the main defendant, Loizos Tzionis, 33, “every step of the way”.
The defendant, he added, watched Tzionis during the burglary of the house and knew that he was armed with assault weapons while, disregarding what could happen inside the victims’ house, he stayed in the yard waiting for his turn to enter for the robbery.
“When Tzionis opened the door, he himself entered without any hesitation, assisting Tzionis but did not react when the child was led to the basement,” the judge said.
In addition, he said, he went up to the first floor of the house, accompanying Tzionis, and despite seeing the feet of one of the victims on the floor and blood around it, without reacting in any way he followed Tzionis during his escape without worrying about the fate of the child.
The couple’s son, 15, was inside the house at the time and the perpetrators locked him in the cellar. Their target appeared to be a safe the 33-year-old had spotted in 2012 while doing some work at the house on Zalongou Street in the suburb of Strovolos. It was however removed in the meantime and Tzionis found nothing.
As regards Hadjixenophontos, the court said it took into account the mitigating factors mentioned by his defence counsel, both in terms of his personal circumstances, his attempt to break free from drugs, his young age when the offences took place, his clean criminal record, his secondary role in the case, and the fact that he had used drugs at some stage before departing for the victims’ house on Zalongou street.
Hadjixenophontos’ family said after the sentence was announced that they would appeal.
Tzionis, pleaded guilty late in the process and got two consecutive life sentences, his girlfriend Sarah Shams, 21, was jailed for four years after she pleaded guilty to lesser charges, as did his stepbrother, Lefteris Solomou, 23, who is serving a six-year sentence.