Balcony-plunge father cleared of son's murder

A father who threw his six-year-old son to his death from a hotel balcony in Greece was cleared of murder today.

A court on the island of Crete ruled that John Hogan, 33, from Bristol, had not been capable of murder and needed psychiatric treatment.

However, his ex-wife Natasha, who was in court, said what Hogan had done was “unforgivable”. She condemned the verdict, saying it had left her feeling that her son Liam had “lost his young life for nothing”.

Hogan hurled Liam from the fourth floor of their hotel then jumped himself with his two-year-old daughter Mia. Liam died of head injuries but Hogan and Mia survived with broken limbs.

Clearing him of murder and attempted murder after a two-day hearing, Paraskeri Kiraleou, the senior judge at the trial, said: “His responsibility was diminished. He was incapable of murdering his son and he needs to be in a psychiatric unit for therapy.”

Hogan said nothing as he was led from court by two police officers, but shot a quick glance at his mother Josephine, who looked tearful.

His lawyer Dimitris Xiritakis told reporters: “It is the right verdict.”

He said: “John Hogan is very happy with the verdict.”

Referring to Hogan’s family members, he added: “Everyone is with him now.”

Hogan will continue to receive treatment in Greece while British and Greek authorities discuss his long-term care.

Later, as he was escorted back to the cells in Chania, Hogan told a film crew: “How can I be pleased, because my son is dead.”

Natasha Hogan, 35, a nurse who now lives in Newport, Gwent, said the trial had been an ordeal.

She said: “We have found it particularly difficult to hear the circumstances of Liam’s death all over again.”

“I feel deeply for my family and especially my mother, who has provided me with a great deal of support throughout.

“The Greek authorities have had a considerable time to examine the evidence gathered both by themselves and the UK police.

“I have done my best to provide a balanced view of John and our life together so that the Greek court is aware of the troubled times in both John’s life and our relationship together.

“This result, albeit somewhat unexpected, has left me feeling that Liam lost his young life for nothing. I accept that an act in a moment of complete madness was uncharacteristic of John but to have done this to our children was unforgivable.

“I know that we all miss Liam but it is Mia and I that are left to rebuild our lives without a loving, caring son and brother.”

Mrs Hogan fought back tears as the statement was read out on her behalf on the court steps by Avon and Somerset police constable Russ Jones.

The court had heard that Hogan’s relationship with his wife had been breaking down and their attempt to salvage their marriage during the holiday in August 2006 had failed.

On the night he plunged from the hotel balcony with their children, she had just started packing her bags.

Before the verdict, Hogan, whose two brothers committed suicide, told the court he felt no guilt over Liam’s death as his son and God had already forgiven him.

He said: “I loved my mother, I loved my two sisters but I loved my wife and children more than anything.

“They meant the world to me.”

He said: “Whatever you do to me in this court, no one can do to me what I have already done to myself.

“I have lost a daughter and I have lost a son until someone decides to take my life. I’m not even allowed to write a letter to her.”

After breaking down in tears, a shaking Hogan added: “My wife has every right to hate me. I took away her children.”

Hogan’s psychiatrist said his actions were caused by an “earthquake” of psychosis.

Joannis Nestoros, a psychiatrist from the University of Crete, said: “He was away from reality. He did not know what he was doing. It was not his intention to harm the children. He thought he would be able to take his children to heaven. This was not logical.”

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