Page last updated at 13:49 GMT, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Balcony death father will appeal

John Hogan with his former wife Natasha Visser and children
Mr Hogan was committed to a psychiatric unit in Greece

A man who threw his two children off a hotel balcony, killing his son, has won permission to challenge an inquest verdict of unlawful killing.

John Hogan, 34, of Bradley Stoke, South Gloucestershire, was cleared of murder by a Greek court in January.

An inquest in the UK later ruled his son Liam, six, was unlawfully killed.

He died of head injuries and his sister Mia, then two years old, broke several bones in the 50ft fall at the Petra Mare Hotel in Crete in August 2006.

'Tragic case'

Two judges - Lord Justice Dyson and Mr Justice Griffith Williams - at the High Court ruled Mr Hogan's case raised "serious points that are plainly arguable" and gave him permission to seek a judicial review.

Lord Justice Dyson described it as "a tragic case".

"In my judgment it is, to put it at its lowest, arguable that the coroner was wrong to regard Mr Hogan's 'mens rea' (whether or not he actually intended to commit a crime) as irrelevant (to his verdict)," he said.

Liam Hogan
Mr Hogan's ex-wife Natasha is distressed at the prospect of a hearing

John Hogan is seeking to overturn Avon coroner Paul Forrest's ruling in March that Liam was unlawfully killed. The coroner was not represented at the hearing in London.

In March 2008 an inquest into Liam's death was told that the Greek trial had ignored evidence from key witnesses. Mr Forrest arrived at his verdict after taking this new evidence into account.

James Badenoch QC, appearing for Hogan, argued the evidence pointed to the conclusion that "Mr Hogan was insane within the meaning of English law" and so did not have the required mens rea, or criminal intent, to kill his son.

Lord Justice Dyson agreed. "It seems to me it is not possible for this court to be sure what the outcome of further exploration of the psychiatric evidence would have been, and how it would have impinged on the issue of insanity," he said.

"In my judgment this application raises serious issues which are plainly arguable and which should be thoroughly aired at a contested - as I assume it will be - judicial review hearing."

Mr Hogan was committed to a psychiatric unit in Greece for a minimum of three years after his murder trial ended.

'Psychological recovery'

Mr Hogan's ex-wife Natasha was "distressed" by the prospect of the review, her family said.

Her stepfather Brian Chandler added: "It is hard on Natasha who has to continue to worry about this again.

"Her priority is to help her daughter, Mia, working on her psychological recovery, as well as her own.

"It is very distressing for her to have this all dragged up again."

Mr Chandler added: "This request for an appeal has absolutely nothing to do with what happened.

"There is no real evidence, in any court of law, which will change what occurred."

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Balcony death father will appeal
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