Victim's Family Disapointed With Verdict

The family of a teenage former England football mascot stabbed to death in Greece said they had taken ''some solace'' from the jailing of the taxi driver who killed him.

Stelios Morfis, 22, was convicted yesterday of causing deadly bodily injury to Robert Sebbage on the island of Zante on July 13 last year and jailed for 11 years.

A court in the western town of Patras dropped murder charges against Morfis, which would have carried a maximum life sentence.

Mr Sebbage, 18, from Tadley, Basingstoke, Hampshire, was on holiday with eight friends when he was killed during their last night out when the group got into an argument with two taxi drivers. Four others were also stabbed during the incident.

His family said they had taken ''some solace'' from the verdict, but that the sentence did not ''reflect the horrific and senseless killing'' of their son.

In a statement issued through the Foreign Office, they said:

''This has been an exceptionally difficult and traumatic time for us.

''Nothing will bring Robert back but we strongly believe that the sentence passed does not reflect the horrific and senseless killing of our son.

''We take solace from the fact that Stelios Morfis was found guilty of taking our son's life and attacking four of Robert's friends.

''We are also comforted that Robert's good character and reputation was acknowledged in court and that the other boys who were attacked were accurately represented as the victims of this violent assault.

''We are grateful to all those people and organisations in the UK and Greece who have helped us during this horrible time - in particular our families, friends and the people of Tadley and the surrounding communities; it is their wholehearted support that has allowed us to be here to fight for justice for Robert and his friends.

''We would like to thank you all for your continued support and kind wishes, and we would ask for privacy so that we can reflect and move on with our grieving, now that this difficult stage is at an end.''

Mr Sebbage's inquest at Basingstoke last October heard how he and his friends had been out for a few drinks on their last big night of their Greek holiday and were walking to a McDonald's restaurant when they were followed by two taxis.

His four friends who were also hurt were Steven Granston, Jordan Manson, Sam Champion and Callum Lane.

The front taxi ''nudged'' Mr Lane's leg, leading him to sit on the bonnet and banter being passed between the group.

The inquest was told that the group had witnessed a drunk being sick in the same taxi earlier in the week and they had created a chant of the driver's words ''Get out of my car'' which they then began to sing again that night.

After that taxi driver had driven off, the friends got their food and as they sat on the kerb to eat it, they noticed that the driver of the second taxi had pulled over and was sat on the boot of his vehicle and staring at them.

The driver then confronted the group, particularly Mr Sebbage and Mr Manson and threatened them with a baseball bat.

A laser pen was then shone at the driver and the group continued shouting at the driver who returned and began attacking them, the inquest heard.

Mr Granston said that Mr Manson, who suffered serious chest and stomach wounds, was the first to be attacked followed by Mr Sebbage. The teenager described how the taxi driver then turned on him and Mr Champion. Mr Granston was stabbed in the back and Mr Lane suffered a stab wound to his lower abdomen. Mr Champion was stabbed twice in the back.

North Hampshire Coroner Andrew Bradley recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.

At the Greek court yesterday, Morfis was found guilty of the unintentional manslaughter of Mr Sebbage and four counts of causing life threatening bodily injuries.

The court sentenced him for a total of 11 years including six years for unintentional manslaughter. He was also convicted of carrying an offensive weapon and of using an offensive weapon.

His defence lawyer Constantinos Argyropoulos said the verdict was ''fair'' and that his client acted in self-defence and had no intention to kill.

He said his client had apologised for the stabbing, saying he lashed out with a pocket knife after being taunted by the group.

The trial had opened on September 3.

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