Wales

Jonathan Hiles inquest: Police 'disbelief' with Greek authorities

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Media captionJonathan Hiles, 18, died in hospital from the injuries he suffered

A police detective has spoken of his disbelief over his dealings with the Greek authorities after the death of a Cardiff teenager on holiday in 2007.

Jonathan Hiles, 18, died in hospital from the injuries he suffered when he fell from a stage after being punched at a nightclub in Zante.

South Wales Police offered their expertise to Greek police after his death, but the request was turned down.

Cardiff's coroner ruled on Thursday that Mr Hiles was unlawfully killed.

Andrew Symeou, 25, from north London, was previously cleared of manslaughter.

Officers in Wales first opened a file into the nightclub attack on 27 July, 2007 after Mr Hiles's body had been flown back home for cremation.

Although Greek police were leading the criminal investigation into the death, detectives in Cardiff began gathering evidence on behalf of the coroner ahead of an eventual inquest.

But despite offering their expertise to Zante's police force, Det Insp Noel Harris said they were turned down, Mr Hiles's inquest heard.

In the meantime, a family liaison officer had been appointed to help Mr Hiles's family and update them as to how the investigation abroad was getting along.

But as time drew on, Det Insp Harris told the inquest of his team's frustration about the poor communication of the police in Greece.

"Their response wasn't the quickest," he told Cardiff coroner Mary Hassell.

"There were constant requests for information and nothing was forthcoming. It was greatly frustrating.

"I was later told by an officer in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that this was not unique."

One possibly vital bit of evidence Greek police overlooked, the inquest heard, was in failing to carry out proper forensic tests on clothing that Mr Hiles, of Llandaff North, had worn on the night he died.

They had been brought back by the Cardiff teenager's friends who handed them over to South Wales Police officers.

Vital DNA

"I sent numerous emails (to Greece) but they just did not respond," said Det Insp Harris.

In the end, Det Insp Harris lost patience and ordered his own forensic tests - carried out some five months after Mr Hiles's death, the inquest heard.

He had done so in the hope that vital DNA could be uncovered from the clothes, especially in light of witnesses saying they had seen a man urinate on the deceased prior to his assault.

But by this time, Det Insp Harris said, "the results came back negative".

Mr Hiles had flown to the resort of Laganas with a group of friends to celebrate his forthcoming 19th birthday.

Less than 24 hours after arriving in Laganas, the court was told the teenager's party were at Rescue nightclub when Mr Hiles was hit in an altercation in the early hours of 20 July.

His friend Mark O'Gorman said he was certain Mr Symeou was the man who was behind the attack.

But Mr Symeou, giving evidence to the inquest, turned to Denzil Hiles, the dead teenager's father, and said: "Mr Hiles, I did not kill your son. I wasn't there. It's been hard to hear people slandering my name in a court of law."

Cardiff coroner Mary Hassell said: "I do not know who killed Jonathan Hiles but I know that the person was not Andrew Symeou."

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