Four convicted of attack that left former footballer brain-damaged

Four Britons have been found guilty of an attack on a former footballer who was stabbed with a broken bottle and had his head stamped on while on holiday in Crete.

Ex-Oxford United player Robert Hughes, from Croydon, south London, was left with brain damage after the attack in 2008 in Malia.

Curtis Taylor, Sean Branton, Daniel Bell and Joe Bruckland, all from Surrey, were convicted of causing grievous bodily harm on Thursday and sentenced to four years, suspended pending an appeal.

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Lawyer Georgios Pyromallis, who represented Taylor, Branton and Bell, said the term is likely to be converted to a fine.

He said: “We lodged the appeal right after the verdict and either today or tomorrow they will return to the UK.

“They are relieved that they can come back. Of course my view, and I think I express their views too, is that the court didn’t really have any evidence to prove that Robert Hughes, the victim, was hit or even touched by any of my clients. There was no witness to certify that, there was nothing.”

The appeal process normally takes around a year to complete.

Mr Pyromallis added: “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 most probably be converted to a fine – the court has shown no interest in putting these boys in prison.”

Two other men, George Hollands, from Reigate, Surrey, and Benjamin Herdman, from Worth, West Sussex, were both cleared.

Five of the six defendants (with the exception of Bruckland), lost a legal bid to avoid extradition to Greece in August 2010, after taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

They had claimed that they would face “inhuman and degrading” prison conditions if they were sent back to the country.

Mr Hughes was left in a coma and had to undergo three life-saving brain operations after the attack.

His mother Margaret said: “We’ve come over here and got the verdict we wanted to get.

“It wasn’t about (them spending) 50 years in a prison. It was about getting that guilty verdict, that meant everything to me.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s over. I’m never going to get the son back that I had before.”