Three UK tourists remanded over stabbing of British soldier in Ayia Napa

 

Three UK tourists have appeared in court in Cyprus accused of murdering a young British soldier.

David Lee Collins, 19, from Manchester, was stabbed to death after a fight broke out at a nightclub in the popular resort of Ayia Napa.

Mr Collins, from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was said to be stationed at an Army base in the Dhekelia area of the island and was out with three fellow soldiers when the brawl broke out in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Three suspects, 19-year-old Mohamed Abdulkadir Osman, 17-year-old Umar Anwar and another 17-year-old who has not been named for legal reasons, appeared at Famagusta District Court where they were remanded in custody for eight days.

They have not been formally charged with murder and will continue to be detained while detectives investigate the incident, a local police spokesman added.

The court hearing was told that Osman admitted to police that he stabbed Mr Collins in self-defence after he and his friends were attacked, but said he had not meant to hurt him.

The three suspects also face charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of a knife and possession and use of a controlled substance.

Two of the them are reportedly of Pakistani origin and one of Somali origin.

Mr Collins's family told the Manchester Evening News they were "devastated" by his death. It is understood his father has already flown out to the Mediterranean island.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said yesterday: "It is with great sadness that the MoD must confirm that a soldier from 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers has died in an incident in Cyprus.

"An investigation is being conducted by Cyprus police and it would be inappropriate to comment any further. The family has been informed and our thoughts are with them."

Mr Collin's battalion was due to leave for Afghanistan on Saturday but the mission was delayed for 24 hours, according to reports.

Tributes have been paid on Twitter while a Facebook page has been set up in his memory.

One Twitter user wrote: "Gutted to hear the death of an ex-army cadet and soldier, RIP David Collins, good memories from Camp 2010."

Another added: "Rest In Peace David Collins, You Was A Perfect Solider, Sleep Tight!" (sic).

Connie Pierce, a British military spokeswoman, said the attack took place in an area of the Eastern Mediterranean island that British soldiers are told to avoid because of previous incidents.

After the rape and murder of Danish tour guide Louise Jensen by British servicemen in 1994, the centre of Ayia Napa was declared off limits to soldiers by military top brass on the island, which is a clubbing resort with a reputation for sex, drugs and violence.

About 3,000 British military personnel are stationed in Cyprus at bases retained after the former British colony gained independence in 1960.

In 2008 nine British soldiers went on trial accused of trashing a pub and beating up its owner during a mass bar brawl on the island.

The servicemen, who were celebrating finishing tours of Iraq and Afghanistan and coming home to the UK, were all acquitted.

A Foreign and Commonwealth spokesman said: "We are aware of the arrest of three British nationals in Ayia Napa and we are providing consular assistance."

PA

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