THEY had braced themselves to face their son’s killer in court for a second time – but now their ordeal is set to go on.
Last week, the heartbroken parents of Robert Sebbage flew to Greece for a retrial of taxi driver Stelios Morfis, who killed their 18-year-old son.
In 2012, Morfis was found guilty of the unintentional manslaughter of Robert, a former pupil at The Hurst Community College. Morfis 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.
Morfis was jailed for 11 years, but the Greek prosecutor’s office believes the sentence should be longer and that Morfis should be found guilty of intentional man-slaughter.
Andy and Rhian Sebbage, from Tadley, and their other two sons Steven and Martin, spent hundreds of pounds to travel to the city of Patras for the new court hearing, which started last Wednesday.
But they were dismayed when the trial was adjourned until July 1 because the defendant’s main lawyer was involved in another case in Athens, and a second lawyer resigned. Another lawyer was brought in – but the trial was adjourned so he could have time to prepare.
The family now have just two weeks to try to raise further funds to return to Greece next month. Rhian, who had to take time off work for the retrial, said: “We are trying to raise more money again because the pot is empty.”
The 48-year-old believes the whole saga of delays is an attempt to prevent the family and Robert’s friends from giving evidence.
She said: “If the boys choose not to go back, their evidence will be read out in court. That’s what they (the defence) want. They don’t want us to return. That’s the game, because it’s not as strong if evidence is read out from a piece of paper.”
She added: “We have very mixed emotions. We were so angry and upset. But that’s what they want – to break us down and for us to show emotion. But we aren’t going to give it to them.”
The couple are now planning to speak to the Foreign Office to find out their rights, as they fear the case may be adjourned again.
Rhian said: “The Foreign Office were with us the whole time. But they have no jurisdiction in that country so they feel as helpless as we do. There’s nothing they can do. But I’m sure at a higher level something needs to be done.
“My worry now is we will go back on July 1 and they will try and adjourn it again.”
Once the retrial goes ahead, it will be heard by two judges, a jury of four and the president of the court, who will all decide the verdict by voting.
Rhian said she accepts that Morfis did not murder her son, adding: “He didn’t plan to do that, but what he needs to understand is that if you choose to stab five boys, you have to take the consequences of that. He didn’t think about the consequences.”
She said the ordeal has taken its toll on her family, particularly her 59-year-old husband, adding: “It’s affected Andy’s heart. His blood pressure is extremely low. There’s only so much your body can go through. But you pick yourself up and keep going.”
To support the Sebbage fundraising appeal, visit their website outoftheblue-rjs.co.uk.