British men on trial in Crete for Croydon footballer attack


Pic: Steve (stvcr)

Six men accused of attacking a Croydon man with a broken bottle and stamping on his head four years ago, are on trial in Heraklion, Crete this week.

Robert Hughes, 32, a former Oxford United player, fell into a coma for more than a month after allegedly being beaten while on holiday in Malia four years ago. He incurred brain damage from the incident.

Hughes, who underwent three life-saving operations, is set to give evidence at the trial. He suffers from severe memory loss and obsessive-compulsive disorder because of the attack.

The six suspects from the UK refused to voluntarily attend trial in Greece, but were detained under a European arrest warrant in December 2009 and extradited to face trial in Crete.

All defendants deny causing grievous bodily harm. The men are Curtis Taylor, 22, Daniel Bell, 23, Sean Branton, 22, George Hollands, 24, Benjamin Herdman, 22, and Joseph Bruckland, 22.

A new EU law was drawn up in September following a successful campaign by Margaret Hughes, Robert’s mother. The act will ensure victims of crime abroad receive better access to medical and judicial services.

Robert Hughes and his family stated that they were without sufficient support from Greek and UK authorities following the attack.

Since the assault, Robert Hughes has made a significant recovery. He returned to his football career in 2009, playing for Bromley Football Club before moving on to play for Welling United.



The three-day trial in Heraklion, Crete, resulted in the conviction of Curtis Taylor, Daniel Bell and Sean Branton, and Joseph Bruckland, all from Surrey.

They were sentenced to four years in prison, suspended pending an appeal.

Georgios Pyromallis, the lawyer who represented Taylor, Branton and Bell, said on Friday November 23: “We lodged the appeal right after the verdict and either today or tomorrow they will return to the UK.

“So I hope that in the appeal we will manage to sort this out, to clear them. It is difficult when the court have in front of them a severely injured person like Robert Hughes.

“I have explained to them from the beginning that the charges are serious and they could have faced being in prison for five to ten years.

“With this sentence, it can only be reduced in the appeal court or stay the same, and the good thing is that they will not have to serve any time in Greek prison. It will either be reduced and suspended forever, or converted to a fine.”

It takes around a year to complete the appeal process.

Two of the men on trial, George Hollands and Benjamin Herdman, were cleared of the charges.


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