The Paphos Criminal Court on Thursday sentenced 35-year-old Demetris Ilidzides to two and a half years in prison for causing the death of father-of-two Robert James (Charlie) Birch, 39, through reckless driving last year in Peyia.
He was also sentenced to one year in prison for injuring Birch’s friend. Both sentences will run concurrently. The court also ordered that his driving licence be revoked for a year.
The court said the fact the defendant was under the influence of alcohol was not a mitigating factor but that it took into consideration that he immediately admitted to the offences. His clean criminal record was also taken into account.
The Georgian national was initially charged with premeditated murder, which he denied. He pleaded not guilty again in January after the charge was downgraded to manslaughter, claiming he hit the two men by accident.
Ilidzides admitted earlier in the month to causing death through reckless driving without deceit, and culpable negligence, injuring Birch’s friend, 32, and abandoning the scene, after prosecutors withdrew manslaughter and attempted murder charges.
It was the second time since Ilidzides’ trial started in September last year that prosecutors amended charges in a case which is widely believed to have been a deliberate assault following an earlier altercation.
Ilidzides’ lawyer tried to secure a suspended sentence during mitigation, arguing among other things that his client was drunk during the incident and that this had a taken a toll on his concentration, perception and assessment of danger.