Colour Sergeant Anthony Oxley: American authorities 'overtook investigation' into death of Yorkshire Army officer in Cyprus crash

A US serviceman who hit an Army officer in a fatal crash on an RAF base in Cyprus was not charged because "the American authorities took over the investigation", a new coroner's report has said.

Colour Sergeant Anthony Oxley, who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was on deployment in June 2016 when he was killed in the collision at the RAF Akrotiri base. The 40-year-old, from Ryhill, near Wakefield, was riding a motorbike when he collided with a Toyota Corolla driven by a US serviceman and later died in hospital.

CSgt Oxley's widow Sally Oxley has spent more than seven years campaigning for the details of her husband's death to be made public after saying she had been left in the dark about what happened. A 2018 inquest in the UK recorded a narrative verdict, that CSgt Oxley's death had been caused by multiple blunt force injuries to his head, as a result of a road traffic collision.

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Mrs Oxley said she had been pushing for a new inquest after being approached in a car park outside Nicosia District Court at a previous hearing by someone who worked for the Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) Police - the civilian police force for the British-controlled Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia.

Anthony OxleyAnthony Oxley
Anthony Oxley

She said the person handed her a file with details of the crash that had not been made public. An inquest was held in Nicosia in September last year, and over the weekend Mrs Oxley and her legal team received the official translation of the coroner's conclusion, which was published in December.

The report, seen by the Press Association, names the US serviceman involved in the crash for the first time and says criminal charges against him had been recommended by the SBA Police before the US Air Force took over the investigation.

The coroner says the Constable of the British Bases in Akrotiri, Michalis Vasiliou, concluded in his investigation report in 2017: "I believe sufficient evidence is at hand to successfully prosecute Steven J Shirley for causing death by reckless/dangerous acts."

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The report says witness statements described the driver of the car "(taking) a sharp right turn without turning on his direction indicator to show his intention to turn".

It adds that during the inquest, Mr Vasiliou repeated his view that "it was clear that the car cut off the path of the motorcycle".

The coroner writes: "The reason why no criminal charges were brought, according to the witness (Mr Vasiliou), is because the person in question was a soldier in the American Air Force and the American authorities had taken over the investigation. In his own report it appeared that he disagrees with a very large amount of the findings of the American report."

The coroner says that during the inquest, Mr Vasiliou said the Sovereign Base Areas Police were "awaiting instructions on whether the driver of the car would be prosecuted" when US Air Force investigators "took over the investigation six-seven weeks after the crash".

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The coroner concludes in his report: "There is testimony before me which demonstrates that possibly the actions, acts or omissions of third parties may have led to the death of the deceased."

Mrs Oxley, who lives in Barnsley, said she "cried" after learning for the first time in the report that police had recommended criminal charges against the driver of the car.

"I cried, I did get a bit upset, I've not really slept all weekend. These are the things that have been kept from us," she said. "It's hard to process but I've just got to get on with it."

Mrs Oxley's legal team from KRW Law LLP, which is working with L Zambartas LLC in Cyprus, has now written to the UK Attorney General to request a new inquest based on the coroner's findings. She also hopes the attorney general for the Republic of Cyprus will direct a fresh criminal investigation into the crash.

Mrs Oxley said: "I'm really hopeful. I don't think I can turn back on it now. They're going to have to do something about it."