South East Wales

Jonathan Hiles inquest hears of death after Zante nightclub punch

Jonathan Hiles
Image caption Jonathan Hiles fell from a stage and smashed his head on a club's crowded dance floor

A teenager died after being punched in a nightclub on the first day of a Greek holiday, a Cardiff inquest has heard.

Jonathan Hiles from Cardiff was dancing with friends on the island of Zante in July 2007 when he was hit in the face.

The 18-year-old hockey player then fell from a stage, hitting his head on the crowded dance floor. He later died in hospital in Athens.

Holidaymaker Andrew Symeou, 25, from north London, was charged with manslaughter but acquitted in 2011.

Mr Symeou was in court in Cardiff for the inquest on Wednesday, alongside Mr Hiles' friends and family.

Mr Hiles had flown to the resort of Laganas with a group of friends to celebrate his forthcoming 19th birthday.

Non-aggressive tone

The inquest heard how the group had been at a club called Rescue when they were involved in an altercation.

They had been dancing on a "chest-high" stage in the club when another reveller urinated on them.

The inquest heard from some of Mr Hiles' friends who were on the holiday.

They all said they had seen a man urinating at the back of the stage. Some went to the toilet to clean up leaving behind Mr Hiles and his friend Mark O'Gorman.

Mr O'Gorman told the inquest that, as they were leaving the stage, Mr Hiles turned to the man who had been urinating and asked him in a non-aggressive tone: "What are you doing?".

After a brief pause the man hit Mr Hiles on the left cheek, he said.

'Completely still'

Image caption Andrew Symeou, 25, was acquitted of Mr Hiles' manslaughter in 2011

He told the court that the teenager staggered backwards and fell off the stage onto the dance floor below.

"Jon was on the floor completely still," said Mr O'Gorman. "He wouldn't wake up. I knew something was deeply wrong."

He said he was certain the man who had been urinating was Mr Symeou.

Mr Hiles was flown to hospital in Athens but died the day before his 19th birthday.

His father Denzil Hiles, 62, told the inquest: "Jon was my son and also my friend - his mother and I cared for him dearly.

Roller hockey

"But his life was tragically stolen from him while he was on holiday with friends in Zante.

"I was with Jon holding his hand when his monitor showed a flat line and he passed away."

Mr Hiles said his son was not a violent man.

"His passion was ice and roller hockey. It all started when he saw the film Mighty Ducks.

"Although hockey is a contact sport and fights break out during games Jon was not a fighter.

"All he would be concerned with was protecting his face - he was good looking, a popular lad, he always found it difficult to walk past a mirror."

Home Office pathologist Andrew Davidson said Mr Hiles, who was not under the influence of drink or drugs, died of a head injury.

He said: "I found evidence of blunt force trauma to the back of the head.

"There was also evidence of three fractures emanating from the back of the middle of his head."

The inquest continues.

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