Page last updated at 10:55 GMT, Thursday, 10 April 2008 11:55 UK

Men face Cypriot jail over crash

Luke Atkinson
Luke Atkinson at court in Larnaca during his trial

Two men from Essex have been sentenced to three years in jail for the manslaughter of a Cypriot teenager.

Michael Binnington, 22, and Luke Atkinson, 23, of Witham, had originally been cleared of blame over the death of Christos Papiris, 17, in a crash.

But the Supreme Court in Cyprus overturned the decision and they were sentenced in their absence.

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

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

Binnington and Atkinson, who are currently in Britain, were sentenced on Thursday to three years for culpable manslaughter and one year for grievous bodily harm - sentences to run concurrently - in a Cypriot jail.

Fax message

Prosecutors claimed earlier that the men, and Harrington, set out to take revenge on the Cypriot after a fight outside a nightclub.

Binnington and Atkinson were acquitted after a court decided the prosecution had not proved they had conspired with Harrington to harm the motorcyclist and two of his friends.

Christos Papiris
Christos Papiris died when a car hit the moped he was riding

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.

The men were informed of this earlier this year when a fax was sent to the home of Luke Atkinson's mother, Avril, who is also Mr Harrington's sister.

Richard Howitt MEP said he will use the European Convention on Human Rights to fight any extradition order seeking to force them to return to Cyprus to serve their sentence.

Mr Howitt said: "The verdict that should have been given today should not be against Luke and Michael, but against a judicial process in which they thought they'd been acquitted and then were subject to a retrial in their absence."

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Michael Binnington and Luke Atkinson were both passengers in the car


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