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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 August, 2003, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Holiday death - lorry prank denial
Matthew Benney
Matthew Benney was hit by a bin truck
The family of a tourist killed by a dustbin lorry while on holiday on a Greek island have denied reports that the accident could have been a prank that went wrong.

Greek authorities have said they are investigating witness reports that Matthew Benney, 29, from Dunvant, near Swansea, may have ran under the truck for a bet.

He died of a haemorrhage in hospital on Tuesday after he was run over by the lorry just after 2200 local time on Monday.

The electrician was on a two-week holiday with a group of nine friends in the resort of Faliraki on Rhodes when the accident happened on Monday night.

He was always playing pranks but he wasn't stupid
Damian Benney

The group had been due to return home on Wednesday.

Mr Benney's brother, Damian, 27, said he would not have taken part in such a dangerous prank.

He added: "We are all heartbroken. It is quite a small family and we are really close.

"He was always playing pranks but he wasn't stupid.

"He would never pull something like that."

The accident happened in the early hours as three of Mr Benney's group returned from a nightclub, according to his brother.

"He was walking ahead of them," Mr Benney said.

Faliraki, Rhodes
Faliraki is among Greece's most popular resorts

"They are not really sure what happened.

"They just saw him in the road.

"They didn't see what happened but it wasn't a prank, they are positive.

"They are devastated."

He added: "He loved being the centre of attention.

"He loved life and couldn't wait to get out of bed in the mornings.

"He was always doing something.

'Keen sportsman'

"His friends loved him, and he was going to be best man at a wedding next year.

"He was a really keen sportsman, a good footballer and good at golf."

Mr Benney's family is now waiting to find out when his body will be returned home.

"My parents are upset that he is out there on his own," said Damian Benney.

"If it is going to take more than a couple of days they are thinking of flying out and coming back with him."

Police in Faliraki said that the truck driver, Antonis Kalligas, was arrested after the incident but later freed without charge.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said consular staff were now in touch with the Greek authorities, who are investigating the accident.

A police officer in Faliraki said tests were under way but it would be some time before it could be established if drinking played a part in the accident.

The officer added: "The man who was killed was on foot and the truck hit him.

"He was taken to hospital in Rhodes.

"Two of his friends were with him and they gave statements, then were allowed to go."

Consular help

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "I can confirm he was killed in an accident involving a refuse truck."

Mr Benney's next of kin have been informed. The Foreign Office has offered consular help.

The past four years has seen the village of Faliraki become one of Europe's most popular resorts.

It gained notoriety following the ITV1 show Club Reps, that followed the night-time exploits of Club 18-30 tourists.

Rhodes is the third most popular holiday destination in Greece.

The Greek National Tourism Organisation said 430,000 UK tourists visited Rhodes in 2002, 35% of them staying in Faliraki.




SEE ALSO:
'Booze fuelled' Faliraki
29 Jun 02  |  Europe
Girl drowned in holiday pool
03 Jul 03  |  South West Wales
Holiday death from food poisoning
29 Jun 03  |  South West Wales



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