Faliraki problems deepen as third British tourist dies

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The Independent Online

The controversy surrounding the conduct of Britons in the island resort of Faliraki intensified last night afterthe death of another British holidaymaker.

Russell Christopher Anderson, 25, from Northfield, Birminghan, died on Wednesday, while his friend, known only as Pete, was in a critical condition in hospital. Mr Anderson is the third holidaymaker to have died on the island in the past three weeks.

While the cause of his death has not been confirmed, hospital sources said it was strongly suspected to be drug-related.

It is the latest tragedy to befall the Greek island of Rhodes, which is battling to purge its resorts of the drunken and violent behaviour of British holidaymakers.

Mr Anderson's death took place only one week after Paddy Doran, 17, from Peterborough in Cambridgeshire died after being stabbed in the neck with a broken bottle in a Faliraki bar.

A week earlier, a 30-year-old holidaymaker, Ben Matthews of Swansea, south Wales, died after falling under a dustcart. This week, five holiday reps were arrested but all charges were dismissed. Within days, three tourists were jailed for stripping in public and "insulting our Greek values", the judge said.

Mr Anderson, a factory worker who had a two-year-old daughter Lauren with his fiancée, had been found running along the main road from Faliraki to the airport on Wednesday afternoon. He was picked up by a bus driver who drove him to the airport where an ambulance was called. He died on arrival at hospital after suffering several heart attacks.

His friend Pete, believed to be in his 50s, was found at the airport in a "similar" state three hours later. He remains in intensive care in Rhodes.

Mr Anderson's fiancée, Hayley Roach, 20, described her heartbreak at learning of his death. "He was the love of my life, we had been together since I was 15," she said. "We were looking forward to getting married and bringing up Lauren together, he was a great boyfriend and a wonderful father."

Amid the growing death toll of holidaymakers, the recent spate of violent and lewd behaviour in the once-tranquil fishing village of Faliraki has prompted police to adopt a "zero tolerance" policy.

Police from Blackpool who are experienced in dealing with drunken revellers in the seaside town, are to help the authorities in Rhodes crack down on the loutish behaviour of its visitors.

Yesterday Donald Holder, the British consul, flew from Athens and met the mayor of Faliraki, Ioannis Iatridis. Ten days ago, he had to attend a similar meeting in Kavos after three holiday reps were caught performing oral sex in public. Mr Holder he said he had had a call from Blackpool police offering their expertise in "dealing with trouble-makers".

Mr Iatridis said: "Any help is welcome. We went a long way towards discussing and agreeing on improved measures to restrict trouble-makers." Bar crawls had been outlawed since 1976, he said. "The problem was not the tour operators but people on the side illegally organising the same things."

The 52-year-old mayor said Faliraki would surmount the bad publicity. "We don't have a problem with holidaymakers from Britain, we only have a problem with the 10, 15, 20 who cause trouble. It is only one per cent of the people who come to Faliraki who behave badly."

Superintendent Andy Rhodes, who is based in Blackpool, will liaise with police on the island about how best to tackle the holiday yobs.

The crackdown has led to a number of Britons being jailed or fined for their behaviour. Peter Navarro, 21, of Merseyside, is in a Greek jail accused of the murder of Paddy Doran, which he claims was self-defence. Nine other Britons are on bail.

On Wednesday, Jemma Gunning, who had been jailed for taking her top off in a club, was released after her parents paid off her eight-month jail term with £1,675. And a "moon" by Steve Ireland, of Thurrock, cost the 19-year-old's family £2,250 after he was jailed for seven months for indecent exposure and offending public morals.

Captain Themis Kalamatas, chief of the Faliraki-Archangel police, said two Londoners were arrested yesterday and charged with stealing £5,160 in travellers' cheques and trying to sell them to undercover police on the island. He named them as Dominique Riley, 25, and Albert Acamu, 27, from Paddington, London.

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