In an unprecedented decision, the Larnaca district court on Wednesday found three teenagers guilty in the bullying death of 16-year-old Panayiotis Stefani in 2019 who died from alcohol poisoning.
The three, a 20-year-old from Oroklini, a 19-year-old from Larnaca, and a 19-year-old from Livadia were found guilty of causing Stefani’s death through negligence.
A fourth youth, 20, from Oroklini, was acquitted.
The four defendants were charged with causing death by negligence after they pressured Stefani to consume large amounts of alcohol during a house party in Troulli, Larnaca.
Stefani suffered alcohol poisoning and eventually died.
Police investigators had secured videos recorded during the party that showed him being bullied and pressured by peers to consume large quantities of alcohol very quickly.
This caused Stefani to vomit and later aspire some of the vomit, which led to death by asphyxiation. Toxicology test results found that his blood contained 340mg of alcohol.
The trial was held behind closed doors in the presence of Stefani’s parents and those of the defendants.
According to Cyprus law, causing death through a reckless, negligent or dangerous act is subject to a maximum sentence of four years in jail.
The court will permit the three defendants’ lawyers to appeal for leniency next Wednesday, November 3.
Stefani’s father, Theodosis said he trusted the Republic’s laws, expressing hope that his son would be vindicated.
“The verdict soothes our wound a little bit,” he told Alpha television.
Five months after his son’s death, his father said he was the last to find out that he had been the victim of regular bullying.
On the night of the incident, his father said he took him to the party, wished him well, and left.
“Afterwards, we found him at the house, in the yard, almost dead,” he said.
Stefani said he only found out afterwards that his son had been the victim of regular bullying.
“He was. In high-school, the village, but I was the last one to find out about everything.”
The court censured parents who left the party unsupervised but also other children who did nothing to stop the goings-on.
Panayiotis was reportedly encouraged to drink shots to test how much he could take in a short time. The teenager had also been drinking before the arrival of the three defendants.
He eventually could not take any more, and intoxicated as he was, he was taken outside and made to lie on the lawn where he was left unsupervised while other teens were playing ‘Truth or Dare’ next to him.
They called for help after they noticed fluid coming out of his nose and mouth. An ambulance rushed him to hospital, but it was too late to save his life.