Crete balcony death father 'not insane'


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The Independent Online

A father was not mentally ill when he killed his six-year-old son by pushing him off a hotel balcony in Crete five years ago, an inquest heard today.

John Hogan, 37, was not insane or suffering from a "disease of the mind" when tragedy struck on the Greek island.

Dr Akuntundi Akinkummi, a consultant forensic psychologist, was critical of the two Greek psychologists who examined Mr Hogan in the weeks and months after Liam died.

"From my examination of the documentation made available to me, I am not satisfied and I do not believe that Mr Hogan could properly be described at the material time as suffering from a defect of reasoning arising from a disease of the mind," Dr Akinkummi said.

"Neither am I satisfied that he could properly be described as being unable to know the nature of the act he was doing.

"I am unable to express the view as to whether or not Mr Hogan appreciated the wrongfulness of his actions.

"On balance I would not be prepared to opine that Mr Hogan was mentally insane at the time."

Dr Akinkummi said his request to examine Mr Hogan had been rejected and instead he relied up the reports of the two Greek psychologists.

Dr Akinkummi, who works at the Cygnet Hospital in Stevenage, Herts, was giving evidence at an inquest into the death of Liam.

The little boy died from severe head injuries after falling from the Petra Mare Hotel, in Crete, in August 2006.

His sister, Mia, then aged two, survived with a broken arm after they were pushed off the balcony by their father during a family holiday.

Mr Hogan, who has since been divorced by his wife Natasha Visser, is currently receiving treatment under the Mental Heath Act at a psychiatric unit.

The inquest at Avon Coroner's Court, in Flax Bourton, near Bristol, is being held after the original verdict - recorded in 2008 that Liam was unlawfully killed by his father - was overturned by the High Court.

Two judges ruled that the verdict made by the then Avon Coroner Paul Forrest was flawed and needed "further consideration".

They indicated that a "really quite serious error of law" had occurred because the question of Hogan's mental state "was simply not addressed".

The Greek jury in Mr Hogan's trial decided the former tiler had been suffering from an "earthquake of insanity" during the trip to Crete.

Hogan, from Bradley Stoke, near Bristol, went on the holiday with then wife Mrs Visser in a bid to salvage their marriage.

The incident happened shortly before they were due to return home.

Mrs Visser, who has remarried and moved to Australia with her family, has not attended the new inquest, although she is legally represented.