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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 February 2008, 04:46 GMT
New trial bid over death fall man
By Malcolm Brabant
BBC News, Athens

John Hogan
There are conflicting accounts of John Hogan's fall from the balcony
The former wife of a father who killed his young son in a plunge from a hotel balcony is calling for him to be prosecuted when he returns to Britain.

John Hogan, 33, was found not guilty of murdering six-year-old Liam, after a two-day trial in Crete last month.

He was detained in a psychiatric unit in Greece. His transferral to Britain is expected within a few months.

Relatives of his former wife Natasha have asked two prominent Conservative MPs to take up the case.

'Miscarriage of justice'

Brian Chandler, the partner of Mrs Hogan's mother, has written to shadow home secretary David Davis and his local MP Liam Fox appealing for their assistance.

"The family would like to know whether the UK authorities intend to take any action to rectify this miscarriage of justice, and bring some closure for the family, on young Liam's death," Mr Chandler told the BBC.

Is it justice to punish somebody who didn't know what he was doing?
John Hogan's psychiatrist

The Greek court's assessment that Mr Hogan was "incapable of murdering" Liam shocked some senior British police officers and officials in the justice system.

"I am appalled," said one high-ranking officer. "Justice has not been done."

They believe that Liam, who died from severe head injuries following the 50ft (15m) fall, was killed unlawfully and that this was not reflected in the verdict.

'Not further punished'

But psychiatrist Professor Iannis Nestoros, who treated Mr Hogan during nearly 18 months in Greece's top security Korydallos jail, has defended the court's decision.

"Is it justice to punish somebody who didn't know what he was doing?" he said, during an interview with the BBC in his office next to the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens.

"I don't think that Liam, if such a thing as a mortal soul exists, and I believe it does, is going to be upset about it.

"I am sure that he is going to be very happy that his father, who is sick, is not going to be further punished for something he didn't really know what he was doing."

Natasha Hogan
Mr Hogan's former wife wants the double-jeopardy rule examined.

But Mr Chandler wants to determine whether Mr Hogan could be prosecuted under Britain's new double jeopardy rules.

Until 2003, a defendant acquitted of a crime could not be retried for the same offence. But the law was amended to permit retrials where new evidence comes to light.

Mr Chandler is concerned that not all the eye-witnesses gave evidence at the Greek trial, and he wonders whether the absence of their testimony affected the verdict.

Conflicting accounts

According to British police sources, one witness claims to have seen Mr Hogan put the two children on the ledge of the balcony and push them off, before leaping over himself.

This is at odds with the story that emerged in the Greek court, that Mr Hogan jumped with the two children in his arms.

One witness, Kevin Swift from Cinderhill, Nottingham, who was in a room close to the Hogans, had been expected to testify at the trial in Chania but did not appear.

A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service has dampened Mr Chandler's hopes.

"It is an offence that was committed in Greece and he was prosecuted there, therefore it won't be appropriate to consider a prosecution in England as this has been dealt with by the Greek court," she told the BBC.

Liam Hogan
Liam Hogan died and his sister was badly injured in the fall

Mrs Hogan's best hope of achieving what she perceives as justice for Liam may rest with the Avon and Somerset Coroner, Paul Forrest.

The inquest into Liam's death was adjourned after his funeral in 2006 and has yet to be resumed.

A verdict of "unlawful killing" is one possible outcome.

'Staged performance'

Mr Forrest told the BBC: "The first set of papers, untranslated, has just landed on my desk. Inquiries will continue.

"As you will appreciate, I am under a legal duty to hold an inquest in this country. When all the necessary and relevant evidence is to hand, the usual notification as to a hearing will be sent out."

Mrs Hogan's family is hoping the coroner will call British witnesses who were on holiday at the Petra Mare hotel in Ierepetra.

In one newspaper interview given after the trial, Mrs Hogan accused her former husband of staging the performance of his life as he testified before the panel of three judges and four jurors.

I am absolutely certain that he (Mr Hogan) is a decent man, and he is one of the nicest people I have ever met
Professor Iannis Nestoros

But Mr Hogan's insistence that he had no memory of jumping from the balcony with Liam and two-year-old Mia in his arms is supported by Professor Nestoros.

"There is no way that someone who is acting can pretend that he is psychotic for a long period of time and manage to fool somebody who knows his work - somebody who is an experienced psychiatrist," he said.

"His fellow prisoners always saw him as a tragic case. If he was somebody who was pretending, who was putting on an act, the first ones who were going to notice it were his fellow prisoners."

Mr Hogan is currently back in the psychiatric ward of Korydallos jail, and on suicide watch, awaiting transfer to a state hospital.

Professor Nestoros believes it would be better for his former patient to be treated in Britain, by an English-speaking counsellor.

"I am absolutely certain that he is a decent man, and he is one of the nicest people I have ever met."



SEE ALSO
Death fall father is transferred
28 Jan 08 |  Bristol/Somerset
Hotel leap man cleared of murder
23 Jan 08 |  Bristol/Somerset
Man who killed son is 'innocent'
23 Jan 08 |  Bristol/Somerset
Depression of death leap father
23 Jan 08 |  Bristol/Somerset

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