THE heartbroken parents of a teenager who was stabbed to death on holiday, were this week having to endure a fresh ordeal as the man who killed their son went on trial for a second time.
Andy and Rhian Sebbage, from Tadley, have flown to Greece and will hear a prosecutor seek to convince a court that taxi driver Stelios Morfis should have his sentence increased for killing their 18-year-old son Robert.
In 2012, Morfis was found guilty of the unintentional manslaughter of Robert in 2011. He was also convicted of causing life-threatening bodily injuries to four of Robert’s friends on July 13, 2011 on the Greek island of Zante.
While Morfis was jailed for 11 years, the Greek prosecutor’s office believes the sentence should have been longer – so now Robert’s friends will be giving evidence again in court to help the prosecution case.
Rhian said: “I think the outcome of the first trial did not fit the crime. We want to get a fair hearing and for there to be a fair trial."
In a bid to ensure that justice is done for their son, the couple, their two other sons and Robert’s friends who were with him on the night that he was stabbed by Greek taxi driver Stelios Morfis have returned to Greece.
Robert, who was 18, died on July 13, 2011, after he was stabbed in the heart during a night out on the Greek island of Zante. In 2012, Morfis was found guilty of unintentional manslaughter and of four counts of causing life-threatening bodily injuries to Robert’s friends, also from the Tadley area.
While Morfis was sentenced to 11 years in prison, the outcome was not accepted by the Greek prosecutor’s office, and, prompted by Greek public opinion that the verdict was not severe enough, the prosecutor decided to pursue a retrial to increase the severity of the sentence.
This week, the young men who were injured in the attack by Morfis – Callum Lane, Sam Champion, Steven Granston and Jordan Manson – have flown to Greece for the retrial, which began yesterday.
They will have to relive the agony of hearing how Robert died all over again, and will also give evidence about what happened on the fatal night.
Speaking to The Gazette after landing in Greece on Tuesday, Rhian Sebbage said: “I’m a little bit apprehensive about the whole thing. It’s in the hands of the Greek authorities now, and all we can do is be there to support each other and get the outcome we want.”
The Sebbage family have been warned that the trial may not be held on consecutive days, and they have no idea how long they may have to be in the country.
Rhian said: “The main objective is to get the other boys into court and out as quickly as possible.”
At the time of speaking to The Gazette, Rhian was unsure if she would be able to sit in the court room, because she is a character witness.
She said: “We have asked if we can be in there – we have heard it all before.”
Speaking about the retrial, Rhian said. “I think in some ways, because we know what to expect, sometimes that doesn’t actually help because we know how the court is set up and how the carryings on in there isn’t ideal. It’s not like a British court. Even the way the prisoner is brought in – they are so close to you.”
She added: “I can’t actually look at him (Morfis) – I find it very difficult.”
Her husband Andy has described the Greek court system as a “farce”, adding: “It’s another world. You can’t believe some of the things that went on last time. It would never have happened over here...They shout and holler at each other. They shout at the judge if they don’t agree with him.”
Rhian said: “He (Morfis) has all the support so he has a lot of voices shouting for him, and we are a very small amount of people.”
The Sebbage family have relied on the support of the Tadley community to help finance the cost of the trip and legal fees, through fundraising events organised through the Out of The Blue fund, which was set up after Robert’s death.
Rhian said: “The people in Tadley have been absolutely brilliant, especially helping to raise the funds. We haven’t had any financial support from anyone at all, and Tadley has been fantastic in supporting us.”
But Rhian said this will be the final time the family will go to Greece to fight for justice.
She added: “Our lawyers are talking about going to the Supreme Court if necessary. But we don’t have the financial backing or emotional strength. It’s been three years in July and we haven’t had the chance to grieve because there’s always been something around the corner.
“It gets harder and harder as time goes by. I still think Robert is going to come through the door.”
Rhian said Robert would be “horrified” by the ordeal his family has gone through, adding: “He was a very private person. Robert would have hated the attention and all that goes with it, but he would have wanted justice to be done if it was one of his friends. He would want to do whatever it took.”