The man who ran down Charlie Birch in Coral Bay last year has been sentenced to 2.5 years, following a protracted legal battle that had charges reduced twice in the course of the trial.
On Thursday, the criminal court in Paphos handed down a 2.5 year sentence to Demetris Iltzidis, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of Robert James Birch, a 39-year-old Briton also known as Charlie, who was killed after being run down in a hit-and-run in June 2018 in Peyia. Charlie’s friend, another British male tourist named Will Pritchard, aged 32, was injured during the incident which took place moments following an altercation at a local bar.
Iltzidis, a 35-year-old Greek national originally from Georgia, pleaded guilty to three charges of reckless driving, causing death by a wrongful act, and causing injury. He was initially facing premeditated murder but it was reduced to manslaughter last November. Following consultations with the Legal Department ealier this month, prosecutors proceeded with a further reduction in the charges based on negligence with no mal-intent.
The court said the charges were serious because the offences caused the death of a human being. But the judges also took into consideration the defendant’s voluntary confession and clean criminal background.
The defendant had originally pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder and later manslaughter charges, while he immediately admitted three new charges after they had been changed earlier this month. The two original charges were dropped.
“We believe that the defendant’s immediate and voluntary confession following the change in the formal charges helped save valuable time for the court,” the attorney said, adding that Iltzidis had shown remorse.
The defence attorney also said his client is a father of three, aged 14, 13, and 11, while his wife does not speak the local language very well. The defendant is also the only breadwinner in the family, according to the attorney, while his children’s grandparents are not in a position to help raise the kids.
The court accepted the position of the defence that Iltzidis had consumed alcohol the night of the incident, he was already under the influence and could not think straight. The attorney also said his client was in no position to comprehend the chain of events that would follow, arguing that he never consumed alcohol with the intention to commit a crime.
Around 2:30am, on Sunday 24 June 2018, Iltzidis drove his car and slammed into the two friends, killing Birch instantly, a father of two daughters, after he reportedly intervened during a dispute between Iltzidis and the defendant’s girlfriend at a local bar in Coral Bay.
The court said Iltzidis will have his driver’s licence suspended for one full year following his release from prison. He is expected to serve his sentences concurrently, while he has been credited for time served since he was incarcerated last summer. He is expected to walk free in December 2020 and have his driver’s permit restored by January 2022.