Jonathan Hiles inquest: Teen 'unlawfully killed'

Jonathan Hiles, 18, died in hospital from the injuries he suffered

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A Cardiff teenager was killed unlawfully after being punched in a Greek nightclub, a coroner has ruled.

Jonathan Hiles, 18, died in hospital from the injuries he suffered when he fell from a stage following the punch at the club in Zante.

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

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

At the end of the inquest, Mr Symeou said: "This was the right verdict. It's what I needed to finally get on with my life."

Start Quote

Mr Hiles, I did not kill your son. I wasn't there”

End Quote Andrew Symeou

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

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 Welsh 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 on Thursday, 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."

Ms Hassell asked Mr Symeou about the fact Mr Hiles's friends had told the inquest they had seen him at the club.

Mr Symeou said: "I thought they were mistaken at first but now I think they're lying."

Andrew Symeou In 2011, Andrew Symeou, 25, was cleared of Mr Hiles's manslaughter

He then turned to Mr Hiles's group of friends and said: "Boys, you're lying."

The coroner asked Mr Symeou if he had hit Mr Hiles and he replied: "No. I've never hit anyone in my life."

A heated exchange then broke out when Denzil Hiles was allowed to question Mr Symeou followed by shouts from the public gallery.

The coroner had to temporarily halt proceedings.

She told the inquest: "I know that feelings are running high in this court. Normally this would be taking place in a criminal court but this [incident] happened in Greece."

Beaten

When Denzil Hiles resumed his questioning, Ms Hassell warned him it was not an opportunity "to bully or ridicule a witness".

Earlier, a friend of Mr Symeou said he was beaten by officers and made to change his witness statement.

Christopher Kyriacou's statement, which had been signed four days after Mr Hiles was injured, was read to the court by the coroner.

Denzil Hiles Denzil Hiles questioned Andrew Symeou during the hearing

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.

"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.

"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."

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