Jonathan Hiles inquest hears Greek police 'hit' friend of accused

Jonathan Hiles hit his head on a club's crowded dance floor after falling off a stage

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A man whose friend was accused of killing a Cardiff teenager in a Greek nightclub was beaten by officers and made to change his witness statement, an inquest has heard.

Jonathan Hiles, 18, was in a nightclub on the island of Zante in July 2007 when he was punched and fell from a stage, the Cardiff hearing was told.

He later died from head injuries.

Andrew Symeou, 25, from north London, was charged with manslaughter but acquitted in 2011.

Mr Symeou had been in the resort of Laganas with a group of friends from Enfield, including Christopher Kyriacou, who today gave evidence at Mr Hiles' inquest in Cardiff.

Start Quote

I was very scared and intimidated. They kept asking me 'what happened?' and I told them I didn't know”

End Quote Christopher Kyriacou Andrew Symeou's friend

Coroner Mary Hassell read out a police statement by Mr Kyriacou, which had been signed four days after Mr Hiles was injured.

It said his friend had "panicked" and fled the nightclub after hitting Mr Hiles following a row over a girl.

But the witness, who was 18 at the time of the interview, told the court that the Greek police's account was "100% untrue".

He said: "They first asked me about my heritage and where my family was from - I said my family were Greek-Cypriot.

"They said I was lucky, otherwise things were going to be a lot worse.

"First they put me in a completely dark room for around 30 minutes. Then they turned the lights on and around six other officers filed into the room.

'Ballistic'

"I was very scared and intimidated. They kept asking me 'what happened?' and I told them I didn't know.

"One officer went ballistic and grabbed me by my neck. I was then hit around the face and punched to the head.

Andrew Symeou Andrew Symeou, 25, always denied Mr Hiles' manslaughter

"My thinking was 'I am just going to have to do what they want me to do'. I needed to get out of the police station for the safety of my own life.

"I did not know what was going to happen to me."

The inquest heard that Mr Symeou and Mr Hiles did not know each other and had been holidaying in Zante separately.

The holiday was the first time Mr Symeou and a group of his friends had been abroad on their own without their parents.

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

Hit on cheek

Less than 24 hours after arriving on the island, the court was told the Welsh teenager's party were at a club called Rescue when they were involved in an altercation in the early hours of 20 July.

Mr Hiles' friends told coroner Ms Hassell they had been dancing on a "chest-high" stage in the club at around 1.30am when another reveller urinated on them.

Some went to the toilet to clean up, although Mr Hiles and his friend Mark O'Gorman stayed put.

On Wednesday, Mr O'Gorman said he saw Mr Hiles hit on the left cheek after he asked the man in a non-aggressive tone: "What are you doing?"

He said he was certain the man he had seen hit him was Mr Symeou.

But friends of the 25-year-old Londoner told the inquest on Thursday said they did not arrive at the club until 4am.

Mr Kyriacou said he was confident the group had not split up at any point during their night out.

The inquest continues.

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