Czech gang lured driver to his death

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The Independent Online
A British coach driver who died in hospital two months after being found unconscious in Eastern Europe was apparently the victim of a female criminal gang, it emerged at an inquest yesterday.

Joe Baines, a father of five, died in Dryburn Hospital, Durham, last December two months after suffering severe head injuries as a result of being repeatedly struck in a park in Prague, the Czech capital.

The north Durham coroner was told how Mr Baines, 53, was fatally injured after he and three other drivers who had taken Hull University students to Prague, had a night out in the city and were chatted up by a group of women who wanted to take them to another bar.

Of the three who went with the women, two later returned to their hotel minus their wallets and Mr Baines was found lying in a park, brutally battered and stripped of his cash.

Recording a verdict that Mr Baines, of Durham, was unlawfully killed, coroner Geoffrey Burt said: "It seems to me that the three drivers who were robbed had been the subject of some preconceived plan.

"They had been lured away in taxis or to remote places and robbed of their possessions. It may be Mr Baines resisted and was attacked - quite clearly he was viciously attacked and robbed."

Pathologist James Sunter said Mr Baines died from pneumonia which developed as he lay unconscious as a result of severe brain damage.

The inquest was told that the Czech Republic police report in to the murder was confined to a single sheet of paper.

Detective Sergeant Denise Pearn, of Durham police, said she did not feel the attack had been investigated as thoroughly as it would have been in Britain.