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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 14:43 GMT
Cleared men face crash sentence
Luke Atkinson
Luke Atkinson at court in Larnaca during his trial
Two Britons cleared of killing a Cypriot teenager in a crash are to be sentenced after the decision was overturned on appeal to the high court.

Michael Binnington, 22, and Luke Atkinson, 23, from Essex, were cleared of conspiracy to commit manslaughter after Christos Papiris, 17, died.

Their uncle, Julian Harrington, was jailed for 15 years after admitting manslaughter following the 2006 crash.

The two are now due to be sentenced in Cyprus in March.

The two were acquitted of conspiracy to commit manslaughter last year but the Supreme Court in Cyprus overruled the lower court and decided they were guilty.

Christos Papiris was killed and Marios Demetriou, now 18, was seriously injured when the car hit their moped in Protaras in August 2006.

Fax message

Luke Atkinson's mother, Avril, who is also Mr Harrington's sister, said the decision, which came through to the family in a fax, was devastating.

She said: "He had been acquitted but now could be going back for 15 years. He is in a poor way."

She added: "I don't know where this goes now, and whether they are facing extradition. There is nobody to advise us."

Richard Howitt, MEP for the East of England, who has campaigned on behalf of the Harringtons, said the decision was "frankly breathtaking".

He said: "The family did not know that a retrial was taking place.

"They thought it was simply an appeal hearing by the prosecution and that they might be asked to go back and face charges.

Revenge claim

"To find out by fax that you are facing a jail sentence of up to 15 years without having an opportunity to give your side of the story is manifestly unfair and totally unjust."

The incident happened after a fight outside a nightclub in which the men's friend was injured.

Prosecutors claimed the three men set off to take revenge on their friend's attackers.

The two Cypriot youths were not at the nightclub and had not been involved in the fight.

Binnington and Atkinson were acquitted after the court decided the prosecution had not proved they had conspired with Harrington to harm the motorcyclists.

But the Supreme Court ruled evidence showed the pair had "undoubtedly encouraged and had common purpose with" Harrington to "seek, pursue and punish" the Cypriot teenagers.


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