Parents of teen who died in Greece believe there was police cover-up
Thursday 03 December 2009
His death was passed off as yet another example of irresponsible young Britons drinking themselves to death on holiday: a 17-year-old boy who fell 20ft down the stairs of a nightclub in the popular beach resort of Laganas, on the Greek island of Zante, after drinking a potent concoction of spirits known locally as a "bomb".
On Greek television, reports about the death of Matthew Cryer were illustrated with clips of intoxicated British tourists having sex on the island's beaches. "The youngster apparently choked and suffered cardiac arrest from excessive intake of alcohol," a local police spokesman said at the time.
But a very different story about the the teenager's death is now emerging.
Greek prosecutors have been forced to review the police investigation after a coroner in the UK ruled that the teenager, who died outside the town's Cocktails and Dreams nightclub on 21 July 2008, had been unlawfully killed.
Matthew's parents claim the true cause of his death was covered up to protect the island's tourism industry, and have led a passionate campaign calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. A spokeswoman for Derbyshire Constabulary said the force was handing their Greek counterparts hundreds of pages of evidence – compiled from information gathered during the coroner's inquest as well as interviews with the teenager's family and friends – which suggests he was assaulted.
The UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency said the Greek authorities had requested a translation of the material and described this as "a promising development". However, Matthew's parents told The Independent yesterday that the evidence was still lying untouched in the police station in Derbyshire, as the Greek police have not yet provided a contact in their department.
Matthew, an engineering student from Killamarsh near Sheffield, who worked at Burger King to fund his studies, had flown to Laganas to celebrate his friend Terry Golding's 18th birthday. He was in a group of four teenage friends and two adults – his first non-family holiday – but on their first night out, he became separated from the others. Greek police said he had been drinking heavily in the Cocktails and Dreams club despite being under age, and was found lying on the street outside after falling down the flight of steps to the club's entrance. A local coroner ruled he had "choked and suffered cardiac arrest" after drinking excessively.
However, an autopsy in the UK revealed that Matthew had suffered 20 injuries, including severe head injuries and bruising. Witnesses at the inquest said they had seen the club's bouncers push him down the stairs, punching him and kicking him in the head as he lay on the ground. The inquest also heard that Greek police officers had failed to act as the teenager lay dying, and did not take witness statements because they were intimidated by the bouncers. The club's owner was questioned about serving alcohol to a minor, but investigations seemed to end there.
It took an hour for an ambulance to arrive. Matthew died in hospital. Robert Hunter, the Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner, passed down a verdict of unlawful killing.
The teenager's father, David Cryer, 44, said: "To me, since day one it's just been a cover-up. The policing is inadequate, and so is the medical care. It sounds as if the place is run by the door staff. We'd like the doormen locked up."
The publicity surrounding Matthew's death has led to allegations being made about the Cocktails and Dreams club by other visitors to Laganas. On the website Justice4Matthew.com, one woman claimed she had witnessed similar violence by door staff. The club's owners could not be contacted yesterday.
Matthew's mother, Joanne Froud, 43, said: "It's a small island and people know each other. We know witnesses wanted to give statements to the police and they wouldn't take them."
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