Three British soldiers freed in Cyprus assault case

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The Independent Online
A group of English tourists reacted with dismay yesterday as three British soldiers who had been accused of attacking them outside a Cyprus nightclub were allowed to go free.

Charges against Tim Carter, 27, of Liverpool, Steven Wolstencroft, 26, and Steven Girvan, 20, both of Manchester - all riflemen with the 1st Battalion, the King's Regiment - were dropped after a witness provided them with alibis. The men were among five soldiers accused of the attack in Ayia Napa on 2 August.

After the decision one of the victims, Claire Harbour, 22, a nursery nurse from south London, said: "I feel completely sickened by the whole thing. I am numb. I cannot believe it. We have been to hell and back with court and everything - and for what? It is a nightmare."

After the attack, her boyfriend Barry Ford, 23, of Lee in south London, needed treatment for a broken hand and 22 stitches in his face. His friend Shane Bell, 27, of Eltham also in south London, was treated for a broken jaw.

After the case was dropped, Judge Michalis Christodoulou said: "The court did not find them innocent. They were discharged because the attorney- general ordered the trial be interrupted and the charges withdrawn."

But John Mylonas, lawyer for the defence, said: "Despite the comment from the judge the names of my clients are now 100 per cent in the clear because there were insufficient grounds to put them on trial in the first place ... They were made scapegoats. They just found the first three skinheads and brought them to the court without any real evidence."

The soldiers were charged after being picked out from a police identity parade by their alleged victims, who said at least eight soldiers were involved in the beating.

When they were freed, the trio said they were greatly relieved that their ordeal was over. Tim Carter said: "I'm just glad it's all finished and my life can get back to normal."

The case against two other soldiers Roger Bell, 26, and Stuart Spencer, 20, both of Liverpool, has been adjourned until Tuesday.