Greek doctors face jail after conviction over Briton's death  

Relatives of a British bar manager who died after a fall on the Greek island of Rhodes said they suffered a "rollercoaster of emotions" during a trial which ended yesterday with three doctors convicted of his manslaughter by negligence.

Christopher Rochester, 24, from Chester-le-Street, Co Durham, died in Rhodes Town hospital after falling 40 feet from a balcony in Faliraki, a day after arriving on the island in June 2000. Michael Sokorelos, George Karavolias and Sergios Paulidis each received a three-year sentence, suspended pending an appeal.

The legal system in Greece allows the doctors to pay off their sentence and avoid serving time in jail. Two nurses, Pinagiotis Kalafatis and Despina Kazaki, who faced the same charge, were acquitted after the three-day trial.

Mr Rochester's mother, Pam Cummings, 46, who has raised thousands of pounds to fund the legal campaign, said yesterday: "At the moment the verdicts were announced, I did not know what was going on. It was just a whirlwind of emotions. I'm just so relieved and so glad we have achieved what we set out to do. Even though it was emotionally draining to the point of exhaustion, it's been worth it."

Mr Rochester's brother Keith, 29, added: "I can't be pleased because Christopher should never have died in the first place and I don't feel we have won anything but we have seen justice done."

Mr Rochester had flown to Rhodes to join Keith, who rushed him to hospital after the accident. It was claimed that it took 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive and that Mr Rochester had been "bounced about" on a stretcher, before being left in severe pain on a trolley in the hospital.

The case focused on claims that Dr Paulidis, a hospital intern who had qualified in Russia but was training in Rhodes, transferred Mr Rochester from the casualty unit to an orthopaedic ward after failing to find a senior doctor who was sleeping in another part of the hospital.

The doctors' defence team claimed that Mr Rochester was too drunk to co-operate with staff. His brother dismissed this as "ridiculous".

Mr Rochester's family and Kevan Jones, the MP for North Durham, fought a legal battle for more than three years to have the doctors and nurses prosecuted over his death. They felt yesterday that, at last, justice had been done. Mr Jones was preparing yesterday to lobby Parliament about the standard of medical care in Rhodes and the threat it posed to British tourists. He said that he also intended to meet Foreign Office officials to discuss the issue.

Keith Rochester, who had been working as a nightclub manager in Faliraki, said the outcome of the case would be of comfort to the British tourists who travelled to the resort every summer.

"These people now know if they treat anyone else in the way they have treated Christopher, they are not going to get away with it.

"This can only be good for British people visiting Rhodes and for the Greek people who visit the hospital themselves," he said. An inquest into Mr Rochester's death in Britain in July 2001 recorded a verdict of accidental death contributed by neglect. The North Durham coroner, Andrew Tweddle, said he felt "great concern about the standards of medical care" on Rhodes. In October of that year, Mr Jones told the House of Commons that Mr Rochester's body had been returned to the UK from Rhodes without its left kidney. When the Greek authorities were informed, they sent a kidney from Rhodes.

But DNA tests showed that the organ did not belong to Mr Rochester.

The legal campaign suffered a series of setbacks. On one occasion, the case was adjourned for eight months after one of the three doctors was not properly summoned for trial; on another, a nurse failed to attend a hearing.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?