Cyprus property developers claim expat tried blackmail

THE PARALIMNI Cyprus property developers at the centre of a police assault investigation involving a British home buyer yesterday countered the allegation by accusing him of blackmail.

Conor O’Dwyer, 38, spent six days in Larnaca hospital last week after being allegedly assaulted by the father and son developers, who were later arrested and held in police custody for four days.

They were released on Monday pending further investigations.

It was the second time in less than two years that the two men had been arrested for allegedly assaulting O’Dwyer. The earlier charges were dropped.

O’Dwyer has widely publicised the details of his property dispute with the developers on YouTube and on the website

The dispute centres on the cancellation of his contract by the property developers some half way through payment, even though the house in Frenaros was already registered in his name at the land registry.

O’Dwyer had complained because he said the developers were not sticking to the original plans he was paying for. They then cancelled the contact accusing him of not paying the next instalment. The developers then sold the house to someone else, telling O’ Dwyer they were keeping his £75,000 sterling for damages.

Yesterday on their website, Karayiannas Developers and Constructors said O’Dwyer’s claims that they had misled him into purchasing the property were defamatory.

Under a link entitled “The Karayiannas saga… To find out more about the true events…“, a statement from the developers claimed that O’Dwyer had masterminded a plan to extort a newer more expensive property and exorbitant damages from the company.

Karayiannas said the British buyer had ignored reminders to pay the next instalment for the property, so they cancelled the contract as a last resort.

After the cancellation of the contract, Mr. O’Dwyer set his plan in motion seeking for his revenge. A revenge originating from the fact that the value of the house he would have bought increased due to the current value housing boom,” said the statement.

The alleged plan involved O’Dwyer secretly taping a conversation with Marios Karayiannas and later using that tape recording as a threat to blackmail the company for “a private villa worth £400,000 and £100,000 in cash“, failing which he would create a website “defaming the company in such ways as to cause it great financial losses“.

He was in plain and simple words blackmailing his way into a luxury villa and cash in hand,” the statement said.

But the company had “failed to adhere to his blackmail requests“.

O’Dwyer says he repeatedly attempted to make the contested payment, having decided to keep the house despite the differences between the original plan and the finished product, but claims Karayiannas refused to take the due payment, deciding, O’ Dwyer said, that he was giving them too much hassle over the terms of the contract.

After Karayiannas sent him a letter in March 2006 cancelling the contract, they kept refusing the payment. The final time O’Dwyer tried to send payment was through a court server, he said.

The same month Karayiannas’ lawyers sent him a letter – published on his website – saying: “As you committed essential breaches of your contract, you are hereby notified that they [Karayiannas] cancel the said agreement and retain the money already paid, towards damages.”

Another letter a month later said: “Even if for any reason in the end of the day it is decided that they [Karayianas] had no legal ground to cancel it due to your behaviour, they do not want you on their property and they hereby notify you that they are not willing to complete the house and deliver it to you.

The deal is over and they will never ever deliver to you your house.

On Tuesday evening, O’Dwyer gave a full statement to police about the January 14 incident in Frenaros, which saw the Briton end up in hospital.

Copyright © Cyprus Property News

Attorney General: 2nd assault: 23-01-2008

Your ref.: Our ref.: O.9-146/2007
Date: 23 January 2008

The Honourable Attorney General
Attorney General’s Office

By fax and by hand”

Dear Attorney General,

Re: ASSAULT OF CORNELIUS DESMOND O’DWYER – G.E. 93/1984/123 + G.E. 9/52/427

I hereby refer to the above matter and, further to our previous correspondence, our client has once again been assaulted by Messrs. Karayiannas.

The matter has taken on very serious dimensions, and is having a snowball effect due the reactions of various organised groups, both in Cyprus as well as abroad, in such a manner that it is having a negative effect on Cyprus’ good name.

I wish to remind you that the assault of my client is connected to the purchase of a property which he himself made from Messrs. Karayiannas, with the aim of him and his family settling on our island.

Furthermore, charges have been brought before you with regard to the sale of the above property by Messrs. Karayiannas to a third party, in breach of Article 303 (A) of the Penal Code, according to which, when someone negotiates the sale of a property that belongs to another person, this constitutes a crime and it is also punishable by up to 7 years’ imprisonment. According to our file, this case is being dealt with by Mrs Paulina Evthyvoulou from your office.

To his surprise, on 21/1/2008, my client received a telephone call on his mobile from Police Officer Thanasis, from the Paralimni C.I.D., who informed him that there is no pending criminal case against Messrs. Karayiannas with regard to this matter. The aforesaid Police Officer mentioned to my client that he had been instructed to call and notify him by his Superior Officer, Mr Kapnoullas.

I believe that this matter as a whole is very serious and all necessary drastic measures should be taken against all those who have committed crimes in the relation to the purchase of the aforesaid property and the assault on the aforesaid Buyer (my client) so that no false impressions are given abroad, particularly in England, a market upon which we rely both for our tourism as well as for the sale of property.

I think that it is important for us to arrange a meeting together immediately so that I can explain to you the seriousness of the matter in more detail and to what extent there have been reactions abroad. I am willing to provide any assistance so that this matter may be regarded as an isolated incident so that faith will be restored in our island with regard to the proper administration of justice and the fact that it is safe for someone to buy a property in Cyprus.

Yours faithfully,

Yiannos G. Georgiades
Advocate & Legal Consultant


Minister of Trade / Industry & Tourism
Mr Antonis Michaelides

Minister of Internal Affairs
Mr Christos Patsalides

Minister of Justice & Public Order
Mr Sophocles Sophocleous

Two accused of assaulting British property buyer released

TWO MEN involved in the alleged assault of British home buyer Conor O’Dwyer were released from custody yesterday, police said.

Ayia Napa police chief George Economou said there had been no need to keep the pair in custody any longer.

“There was no need to hold them any longer. They were released and when the [investigation] file is completed it will decided whether the case goes to court,” he told the Cyprus Mail.

Economou said there was still more evidence to gather before the file was closed.

He added that the duo, Paralimni property developers, were not deemed dangerous.

The father and son were remanded in custody on Thursday for four days in connection with the brutal beating of O’Dwyer, with whom they were engaged in a legal dispute.

During the alleged assault in Frenaros village last Monday, O’Dwyer told police that the two men had taken his camera, which had recorded the attack.

O’Dwyer, 38, who has widely publicised the details of his property dispute with the developers on youTube and on the website, was kicked in the kidneys and had his head stomped on. He was admitted to Larnaca hospital where he remained for most of last week.

He told the Sunday Mail last week he was afraid for his safety if the men were released from custody while he was still on the island. “It’s been absolutely horrendous but they are now in custody and I would rather it was extended until I leave the island,” he told the paper from his hospital bed on Friday.

By: Jean Christou Published: Tuesday 22nd January 2008
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008

Editorial: Tribal mentality undermines the rule of law

POLITICIANS often boast that in Cyprus we have the rule of law. Generally speaking, this is not an idle claim, even though things are far from perfect when it comes to law enforcement and the small matter of equality before the law. In these respects, which are integrally linked to any notion of rule of law, Cyprus, it would appear, still has a long way to go before we can safely make any such boast.

Many foreigners, for instance, would have little faith in the rule of law after the experiences they have had dealing with the authorities, which in most disputes blatantly side with locals irrespective of who is in the right. It is particularly so in small towns or villages where the members of the local community know each other and stick together against the outsiders. Policemen are not unknown to protect members of the local community even when they are in the wrong.

The trials and tribulations of a Briton, who was reportedly beaten up in Paralimni last Monday by two developers he has been in dispute with, was a case in point. He was in hospital for three days after suffering head injuries and external bruising, and when his lawyer called up the Paralimni police, he was told that they were “investigating an accident”. The two suspects were subsequently remanded in custody for four days, but it remains to be seen whether they will be charged.

This was, allegedly, the second time the Briton had been the victim of assault by the same developers. The first case was never heard; the charges were dropped because the plaintiff had not shown up for the hearing. He had been told by the prosecutor not to bother coming from the UK, where he lives, for the hearing because it was likely to be adjourned. The judge did not grant the request for an adjournment and the case was closed, because the main witness was absent. Would he be wrong in suspecting that he had been tricked by the authorities?

Some 18 months ago, an enterprising Polish student set up a rickshaw service in Ayia Napa, which proved very popular with tourists. However, local cab drivers felt this was hurting their business and retaliated by threatening the young Pole, damaging some of his rickshaws and beating up a couple of the operators. Ayia Napa police offered the young entrepreneur next to no protection and eventually he was forced to close his business. Such incidents do not inspire foreigners’ confidence and trust in our law enforcement.

Perhaps it is asking too much of policemen to act impartially in small, tightly-knit communities in which they may be friends or relatives of local people. In nine out of 10 disputes involving foreigners, a policeman protects the member of his community even if he or she is in the wrong. And this tribal mentality prevails more often than not, even if a Cypriot from another town is in dispute with a member of the community.

In this climate, the foreign mother of the girl who had been sexually abused when she was four should not have been surprised to hear, 10 days ago, that the charges against the girl’s father had been withdrawn and the case closed, without ever being heard by Paphos court. Some legal mistakes made during a family court hearing related to the case would have made the job of the prosecution very difficult, the Attorney-general decided. Then again, the family court’s decision to grant access rights to a father (a Paphos man) facing charges of abusing his child defied belief.

A few months ago, a DISY deputy revealed that almost half of the 141 cases of family violence, including child abuse, pending before the courts were in Paphos, in which the tribal mentality remains very strong indeed. The legislature’s pleas for family violence cases to be given priority by the courts had been ignored, he said. Could the delays be linked in any way to local suspects being protected by the Paphos police and local authorities? Nobody can say, but at the same time could the possibility be ruled out, given the tribalism that marks our small communities and the charges of corruption made a few weeks ago against the Paphos police by the Minister of Justice?
The government, judiciary and the police command need to give serious thought to this problem and come up with ways of tackling it because it is giving the country a bad reputation. More and more foreigners, including many EU nationals, are settling in Cyprus, and the authorities have a legal obligation to ensure they are treated just like Cypriots. This is what the rule of law means.

(archive article – Sunday, January 20, 2008)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008

Expat recounts horror of Frenaros assault

“I CAN’T let my kids see me like this,” says Conor O’Dwyer, the British home buyer beaten up in Frenaros village last Monday, when asked whether he plans to return to the UK as soon as he leaves hospital.
O’Dwyer was assaulted while gathering evidence for the two-year legal dispute he is in with his property developers.

A father and son have been in police custody since Thursday after O’Dwyer, 38, ended up in hospital. He was still there on Friday and worried about what would happen next.

“Am I afraid? I am absolutely afraid,” he told the Sunday Mail.

“It’s been absolutely horrendous but they are now in custody and I would rather it was extended until I leave the island.”

The British ex-soldier said he is determined not to go back to the UK until he sees the case through and he didn’t want his children to see him in such a state.

On Friday, five days after the attack, O’Dwyer was still unable to walk properly and said he felt a stabbing pain in the kidney area. “I’m still dragging my right leg,” he said.

Whatever his dispute with the developers, which is pending before the courts, O’Dwyer was not looking for the kind of trouble that befell him when he went to Frenaos village on Monday.

He certainly never expected to end up in hospital for a week.

He had gone there to take some pictures and measurements around the disputed property to help his two-year-old legal case, which he has outlined in minute detail on his website and on the YouTube Internet video channel.

“I had a friend with me, an ex-marine, in a separate car and he was some 200 metres away on a dirt track in a field. He had two cameras, a helmet one and a camcorder with a 200 metre lens,” said O’Dwyer.

The two men had fixed a rendezvous point in case things did go wrong.
O’Dwyer said he then had a brief conversation with the woman who now lives in the house. “I said who I was and that I was gathering evidence. I was on the road and not the pavement. I took pictures and measurements,” he added. “It’s been two years since I viewed my house. I’ve been respectful up to now.”

He said all a sudden one of the arrested suspects – the father – blocked his friend’s path with his 4×4 and started shouting angrily.

“My friend did up the window and got on the phone to me. I told him we would call the whole thing off and I would come to him where he was. We didn’t want any trouble at all. But he was trapped there,” said O’Dwyer.

He himself then left the area to head for the rendezvous point, and was heading down towards the centre of Frenaros.

“Suddenly there was a car in front of me. I went to turn left and all of a sudden there was the son coming across the junction. It was a deliberate ramming and I will always remember his face as our cars crashed.”
O’Dwyer said there was also another man in the car.

“I turned off the engine and opened the door. He put out his hands to grab me and the first punch came in my eyes and nose,” said O’Dwyer.
“I staggered to the steps of the caf? pub and my nose was bleeding. I was wearing a button camera, which is no bigger than a cigarette packet and was sewn into my clothes.

“The son was then behind me and he wouldn’t let me get up. His father then showed up. He dropped his cigar and put his fist in my face. They then noticed the wire that had been attached to the camera and he shouted “camera, camera, camera”. They tried to grab it and I ran four metres or so and dropped into a foetal position clutching it and then the kicks to the back came. They rolled me over and the father kicked my head and ground his foot into my skull applying pressure.”

O’Dwyer said he was calling for help at the busiest junction in Frenaros but no one came to help.

“I held on as long as I could but the camera was ripped from me. They then went off,” he said. He said police have since recovered the camera but the SIM card with the data was missing.

Police then arrived and he asked the officer to help him retrieve his camera because the incident had been filmed.

“He didn’t want to know, and then I saw the camera disappear to the third individual,” said O’Dwyer.

He remembered that he had a digital camera in the boot of his car and managed to retrieve it and took some snaps of the eyewitnesses. The card from that camera went to the police so they could take statements from the people who were there.

By then an ambulance had arrived and O’Dwyer was taken to Paralimni hospital, and from there to Larnaca, from where he called his lawyer.
He did manage to find some humour in the situation when during his first day in hospital he was served with a summons after the developers filed suit against him over his website.

“They obviously sent the court server to the hospital because they were the only ones who knew where I was,” he said.

“My blood pressure was up and I signed the papers with my hand that was connected to a drip.” O’Dwyer is not concerned about the defamation suit because he said the developers had tried it before and the case was thrown out of court.

But the whole business has left O’Dwyer badly shaken, particularly as it was the second time he was attacked. The two developers were also charged with assaulting him in March 2006 but the charges were dropped.
“It’s not a reflection on all Cypriot developers but something must be done about these people. They assaulted me because they thought they got away with it the first time,” said O’Dwyer.

“I was scared, terrified. It was the second assault and the government had done nothing about my case. Maybe it needed to get worse before it gets better,” he said.

O’Dwyer had already gone to the police in the UK to secure a permit to demonstrate outside the Cyprus High Commission.

“If this trip bears no fruit that is my only option left,” he said.

Sunday, January 20, 2008
By Jean Christou
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008

Two remanded over brutal beating of British property buyer

TWO property developers, a father and son were remanded yesterday by the Paralimni court for four days suspected of assaulting British home buyer Conor O’ Dwyer with whom they were engaged in a legal dispute.

Police officer Marios Christou told the Cyprus Mail the two men had been arrested late on Wednesday and appeared in court yesterday.

“They were remanded for four days,” he said. Christou said police were also looking for a third man suspected of being involved in the assault.

A police bulleting issued later in the day said the two men aged 55 and 32 were being held in connection with a traffic accident, grievous bodily harm and robbery.

During the alleged assault Frenaros village on Monday, O’ Dwyer told police that the two men had taken his camera, which had recorded the attack.

O’Dwyer, 38, who has widely publicised the details of his property dispute with the developers on youtube and on the website, was kicked in the kidneys and had his head stomped on, according to his lawyer Yiannos Georgiades.

The Briton had already pressed charges over another alleged beating by the father and son developers in March 2006 while fighting his ongoing property case at court. They were later charged over the assault but the charges were dropped.

O’ Dwyer had gone to Frenaros to take pictures of changes to the area around the house to produce as evidence in the land wrangle because he thought the photos might prove important later.

After receiving a phone call from the woman to whom the house was later sold by the developers after they unilaterally cancelled their contact with O’Dwyer and kept £75,000 of his money, three men showed up.
They blocked his car with theirs and when he got out of the vehicle, allegedly set upon him and took his camera.

O’ Dwyer was admitted to Larnaca hospital the same day and was due to be released yesterday but Georgiades said doctors were keeping him in again last night.

“He is still in hospital,” Georgiades said. “He has difficulty in walking. He is able to go a short distance but then has to sit again. He is having a difficult time.”

By Jean Christou
(archive article – Friday, January 18, 2008)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008

Beating victim: It was no accident

A BRITISH property buyer who was allegedly assaulted by developers with whom he is engaged in a legal wrangle was yesterday still in hospital, his lawyer said.

No one has yet been arrested for the alleged assault, according to Yiannos Georgiades, the lawyer for Briton Conor O’Dwyer who has been in Larnaca hospital since Monday.

“I spoke with the police but the investigation is not done yet, and they haven’t arrested anyone,” said Georgiades.

“He is still in hospital and although physically he is better, he is terrified over what happened to him.”

O’Dwyer, 38, who has widely publicised his case on youtube and on the website, was kicked in the kidneys and had his head stomped on, according to Georgiades.

O’Dwyer had already pressed charges over another alleged beating by the father and son developers in March 2006 while fighting his ongoing property case at court. They were later charged over the assault.

On Monday at around 11am, O’Dwyer went to the disputed property in Frenaros in the Famagusta district to take pictures of changes to the area around the house to produce as evidence in the land wrangle because he thought the photos might prove important later.

However Georigiades said the woman to whom the developers re-sold the house after unilaterally cancelling O’Dwyer’s contract and keeping £75,000 of his money, “made a phone call” and two men appeared shortly afterwards that O’Dwyer identified as the developers.

“He was telling me how one of them put his foot on his head and pressed it into the ground during the assault,” said Georgiades who visited O’Dwyer in hospital.

The incident was witnessed by onlookers, and police initially said they were investigating a car accident. But Georgiades insisted it was no accident.

An eyewitness contacted the Cyprus Mail yesterday and said it had been an accident, that two vehicles had collided and that O’Dwyer, and the two men in the other car had become embroiled in a scuffle. The eyewitness refused to give his name however.

But Geogiades said it had not been a mere incident over bumping vehicles. He said the two men had grabbed at O’Dwyer when they realised he was wearing a hidden camera. The camera has not been seen since but O’Dwyer saw it in the hands of his alleged attackers when they stood later talking to the police, Georgiades said.

“The start of the incident was captured on the hidden camera but then someone shouted ‘camera’ and they spotted the wire,” he said.

He said O’Dwyer had told the police after the incident that one of the men was holding his camera but there was a lot of confusion and it wasn’t confiscated from the man by the police.
“I am really disgusted with the way things happened,” said Georgiades. “I want to believe they (the police) will do something.”

The lawyer said one of the police who was called to the scene had also given a statement to the effect that the developers had allegedly called them initially to go and remove O’Dwyer from the area and if they did not, he would go himself to remove him from in front of the house.

O’Dwyer is due to be released from hospital today.

By Jean Christou Thursday, January 17, 2008
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008

Brutal beating in Paralimni

A BRITISH property buyer was hospitalised for two days on Monday after allegedly being badly beaten by the developers with whom he is in dispute, his lawyer said yesterday.

Conor O’Dwyer, 38, who has widely publicised his case on youtube and on the website, was kicked in the kidneys and had his head stomped on, according to his lawyer Yiannos Georgiades.

O’Dwyer had already pressed charges over another alleged beating by the father and son developers in March 2006 while fighting his ongoing property case at court. They were later charged over the assault.

According to Georgiades, on Monday at around 11am O’Dwyer went to the disputed property in the Famagusta district to take pictures of changes to the area around the house to produce as evidence in the land wrangle.

“He thought the photos might prove important later,” said Georgiades.

Upon his arrival, the woman to whom the developers re-sold the house after unilaterally cancelling O’Dwyer’s contract and keeping £75,000 of his money, allegedly “made a phone call” and two men appeared shortly afterwards that O’Dwyer identified as the developers.

“Conor was forced out of his car. One stepped on his head and the other kicked him in the kidneys,” said Georgiades, adding that they also took his camera.

“He was bleeding and there was a crowd of mostly women screaming and shouting for them to stop. He was crying out for help and no one helped him.”

Georgiades said someone eventually called 112 and police showed up with an ambulance. A British woman also took pictures of what was going on, he said.

O’Dwyer was taken to Paralimni hospital and from there sent to Larnaca.

“He has head injuries, external bruising, internal pain in the kidney region and he is badly shaken,” said Georgiades.

Doctors decided to keep him in until today to run tests and X-rays.

Georgiades said he had spoken to police about the incident. “They said they were investigating the ‘accident’,” said Georgiades. “I told them it wasn’t an accident. They didn’t arrest anyone but they did take statements.”

Georgiades said he spoke yesterday with a senior officer at Famagusta CID who said they were dealing with the case. O’Dwyer gave a statement to police yesterday afternoon from his hospital bed.

Cyprus Mail January 16, 2008
Cyprus Mail January 16, 2008

The senior officer dealing with the case, George Economou, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday police would take statements from all concerned and decide if there was a case to press charges.

“Conor is just giving his statement now,” said Economou. Asked if there would be any arrests, he said he would know more today. “It depends on the investigation,” he said.

Georgiades said he has also informed the British High Commission.

With regard to the previous assault case against the developers, Georgiades said the charges had been dropped by the Attorney-general ostensibly because O’Dwyer had not shown up for a hearing.

But the lawyer said when the last hearing was due, O’Dwyer, who lives in the UK, had been told by prosecutors not to bother coming to Cyprus because the hearing would likely be adjourned.

“He didn’t come and on the day of the court case, the prosecutor said the judge wouldn’t give an adjournment so the proceedings against the two men would be stayed”.

O’Dwyer is now entering the third year of his property saga.

He and his wife were going to buy a house on a development in Frenaros village. However when they viewed the construction area when the project was coming along, they realised the surrounding homes were not those specified in the original plan.

This would have resulted in a total lack of privacy as two balconies on other properties would have been looking into their garden. O’Dwyer has said the reason they had chosen the site in the first place was for the privacy that was promised.

After several run-ins with the developers over the changes to the surrounding area, and although the house is registered to them at the Land Registry given they had paid for most of it, the O’Dwyers subsequently discovered that the developers had sold it to another British family, who now reside there. The O’Dwyers have not received their money back.

When O’Dwyer launched his story on youtube video, backed up by documents and taped conversations with the developers and their lawyers, Interior Minister Christos Patsalides ordered an investigation in August last year, but no results have been forthcoming.

By Jean Christou
(archive article – Wednesday, January 16, 2008)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008