A BRITISH homebuyer has said he will appeal a court order to pay compensation for an online campaign against a property developer whom the court has found guilty of the unlawful termination of a 2005 contract.
After years of battling his case, and finally having the court acknowledge that his developers had unlawfully terminated his contract, the Famagusta District Court has asked Conor O’Dwyer to pay compensation to Paralimni-based Karayannas Developers over his online campaign.
Although the court awarded O’Dwyer €141,000 in compensation, which comes to around €200,000 with interest, he has been asked to compensate the developers to the tune of some €60,000 – over €85,000 with interest – for defamation on the website lyingbuilder.com, set up in March 2006 against the backdrop of a growing dispute with the developers.
“I’m being penalised because I dared express my opinion about how I was treated by the developers,” O’Dwyer said.
The website documented O’Dwyer’s interaction with the developers by scanning documents, recording conversations and posting photographs of the disputed villa.
In the case of defamation, Georgiades said that European law precedents weighed heavily towards the protection of freedom of speech and people’s right to express their opinion, even against major corporations.
Georgiades said they will also appeal the court’s decision not to award damages for expenses (travelling to and from the UK), loss of rent (by selling a home in the UK to settle in Cyprus) and damages for distress caused by the developers.
The O’Dwyer family sold their house to move to Cyprus with their two small children, buying property on land belonging to the developers in 2005.
They felt their agreement with the developer was breached but negotiations to find a mutually agreed solution failed.
O’Dwyer had already paid over €100,000 in instalments as per his contract and claims the house was resold without his knowledge in May 2007. His contract had been unlawfully terminated and his money never returned.
Karayannas and his son have already been found guilty twice of assault on O’Dwyer in 2006 and 2008. Concerning the second assault, the state has appealed the court’s decision to give a 12-month suspended sentence for actual bodily harm on the grounds the offence should have related to the more serious grievous bodily harm.
O’Dwyer is also waiting on a civil suit against the developers in relation to the second assault that left him six days in hospital.
Also pending is a Supreme Court appeal to a court’s decision to clear Karayannas of any wrongdoing, in relation to a private criminal prosecution.
By: Poly Pantelides Published: Saturday 15th September 2012
BRITISH home buyer Conor O’Dwyer has been granted legal aid to continue his long-running civil case against the Paralimni-based property developer Christoforos Karayiannas & Son Ltd over a disputed property.
In a short hearing yesterday morning, Judge Tefkros Economou at Famagusta District Court said the aid was necessary, pointing to EU directive 2002/8/EC which deals with cross border disputes within the EU.
The EU directive was passed into Cyprus law in 2005 and has only ever been used in human rights and criminal cases, making O’Dwyer’s claim in a civil action a legal first.
O’Dwyer has been embroiled in an expensive and lengthy legal action with Paralimni based Karayiannas Developers, with several concurrent cases running in court.
The aid will help with his fees in case in which O’Dwyer claims unlawful termination of his contract of sale by Karayiannas (Case 365/2006). The aid will also pay for a court interpreter, accommodation costs and travel expenses between his home in Britain and court dates in Cyprus.
“Conor has been drained financially due to all the cases pending in the courts in Cyprus for all these years,” lawyer Yiannos Georgiaides, acting for O’Dwyer, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
“It came to the, point where he could not afford his legal fees; therefore he would not have had proper access to justice. He would have been in a very difficult position.”
O’Dwyer’s lawyers applied for aid after years of legal wrangling over a disputed villa in Frenaros, which began when O’Dwyer claimed he purchased a house that was then resold by Karayiannas Developers without his knowledge.
The dispute has taken a series of twists and turns, including O’Dwyer staging demonstrations outside the Cyprus High Commission in London, sleeping at the gates of the Presidential Palace in Nicosia and publishing his entire story online and on the video site YouTube.
He claims the spat resulted in him losing the house and £100,000 he had paid for the property.
The developers dismissed the accusations and accused O’Dwyer of attempting to extort a more expensive house from them – a charge that O’Dwyer flatly denies.
The case has been closely followed by expatriate communities on the island, where as many as 30,000 Britons are now thought to own property.
“If Conor was not granted this legal aid, this would be equal to the refusal of his right to justice,” Georgiaides added.
Last year the developer, his son and an associate were convicted of assault and actual body harm of O’Dwyer after he was beaten up outside the disputed house in early 2007.
O’Dwyer spent a week in Larnaca General Hospital after the attack and said the incident blighted his family life.
By: Nathan Morley
Published: Friday 23rd December 2011
A group of British property buyers who believe they have been defrauded or mis-sold property in Cyprus staged a protest outside the ‘A Place in the Sun Live’ overseas property exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham.
VISITORS to the ‘A Place in the Sun Live’ exhibition at Birmingham’s NEC were greeted by a group of protesters who were raising awareness and distributing leaflets on the potential problems associated with buying property on the island of Cyprus.
Many of the protesters believe they have been defrauded or mis-sold property and are taking advice from their lawyers on possible legal remedies.
Some of the exhibitors complained that the protesters were damaging their business and demanded that they be removed, but the police turned them away and made sure there were no problems.
‘A Place in the Sun Live’ claims to be “the UK’s biggest and best-attended overseas property exhibition” and is organised in conjunction with the popular Channel Four television programme, which attracts millions of viewers each week. The exhibition, which ended on Sunday, attracted 4,076 visitors.
By: Nigel Howarth Tuesday 4th October 2011
To read comments on this article from expats in Cyprus see the Cyprus Property News
British home buyer Conor O’Dwyer supported by members of the Alpha Panareti Owners Group staged a protest outside ‘A Place in the Sun Live’ overseas property exhibition at Earls Court in London.
BRITISH property buyer Conor O’Dwyer staged a protest outside ‘A Place in the Sun Live’ overseas property exhibition at Earls Court accompanied by members of the Alpha Panareti Owners Group, in a move that could cause further damage to the Island’s beleaguered property industry.
O’Dwyer told Cyprus Property News last week that he planned to protest outside the exhibition. He said that he would be raising awareness of the pitfalls of buying property in southern Cyprus and distributing leaflets warning people about the problems that he, and others, have encountered.
The thousands of visitor who flocked to the exhibition were greeted with placards reading ‘Shame on Cyprus’ and ‘Cyprus Island of fraud’ along with others naming a specific bank and property developer.
Members from the Alpha Panareti Owners Group joined Mr O’Dwyer in his protest. Many of these believe that they have been mis-sold property and are taking advice from their lawyers on possible legal remedies.
‘A Place in the Sun Live’ claims to be “the UK’s biggest and best-attended overseas property exhibition” and is organised in conjunction with the popular Channel Four television programme, which attracts millions of viewers each week. The exhibition ends today.
The protest caused some unrest amongst exhibitors, which included a number of property developers from Cyprus, but the police were on hand to ensure there were no problems and that everything remained calm.
By: Nigel Howarth Published: Sunday 13th March 2011
Conor O’Dwyer was detained as he tried to leave the Paralimni court last Friday and was later arrested, handcuffed and taken to the police station where he was charged with public insult and later released.
CONOR O’Dwyer, the Brit at the centre of a five year legal battle with Cypriot developer Christoforos Karayiannas & Son Ltd was detained and later arrested by the police as he left the Paralimni court last Friday.
Mr O’Dwyer was in court to hear Attorney-General Petros Clerides decision that he had dropped the criminal case against him for documenting details of his ongoing property dispute with Karayiannis on the Internet.
But two police officers prevented O’Dwyer from leaving the courtroom after the hearing and he was taken to a holding area in the court. He was subsequently arrested and driven to the police station in handcuffs where he was charged with public insult and later released.
Earlier in the week O’Dwyer and his wife Michaela had been filming in Cyprus with a crew from the national ITV network for their prime-time series “Homes From Hell” due to be transmitted later this year.
The charges arose from an incident on Thursday outside Karayiannas’ office in Paralimni where ITV had been filming the couple holding a banner (see photograph) containing the words “Karayiannas are Criminals”.
In October, the Paralimni Court found Christoforos Karayiannas, his son Marios and Charalambos Ttigis guilty on criminal charges relating to their assault on Mr O’Dwyer in 2008.
FOR at least five years, the main complaint by Cyprus property buyers, particularly foreigners, has been non-issuance of Title Deeds. Typically, the developer has taken a prior mortgage on the land, which was either unannounced or deliberately hidden but, in any event, not revealed because of non-existent or negligent searches.
Non-discharged mortgages add to developer foot dragging and bureaucratic delays. Some 130,000 properties are still awaiting their Title Deeds, typically 7-15 years or more.
However, some cases have also involved alleged ‘double selling’ fraud whereby the developer sells a property to Party A, fails to lodge the contract with the Land Registry and then sells it again to Party B (possibly for a higher price) but fails to reimburse Party A. There are also alleged variants of this scam.
The most high profile case involves Mr Conor O’Dwyer who bought a property in Frenaros from Karayiannas developers. O’Dwyer brought a number of legal actions against the developers. One action, a private criminal prosecution for fraud under section 303A of the penal code, received judgement on 20th January 2011.
O’Dwyer had reported his allegations to the Police and the Attorney General who declined to act. He then felt obliged to prosecute both the developers and Michelle McDonald, the second buyer who now occupies the property.
This whole saga has received massive coverage in the English media but scant attention in the Greek language media. However, it would be unwise for anyone to ignore the huge negative implications for property buyers and for Cyprus.
Real protection or a mirage?
For many years, the standard claim by the Cyprus government, developers, lawyers and estate agents has been that a buyer of immovable property is absolutely protected once his sales contract is lodged with the Cyprus Land Registry.
This claim, supported by a precedent Supreme Court ruling, has been their main counter to the avalanche of allegations, criticism, anger and demands for justice from property buyers, largely from foreigners and their MEPs.
Indeed, on 22nd July 2009 the Minister of the Interior Mr Neoclis Sylikiotis issued a lengthy official statement about the Title Deeds scandal, noting that “those allegations are entirely unsustainable”.
He further clarified that “the current system and the existing legislation protects buyers and their ownership status”. He went on: “…..the ownership status of a buyer-owner of immovable property in Cyprus is definitely secured and cannot be challenged, as long as the buyer-owner has submitted the buying-contract to the Department of Lands and Surveys”.
Finally, he emphasized that “….there is something that one must not forget. Nobody and no Authority anywhere can ever challenge the property rights or ownership status of buyers of immovable property within the territory which is under the control of the Republic of Cyprus”.
A few days earlier, in a letter to Graham Watson MEP, Mr Sylikiotis had stated: “……buyers of immovable property are protected, once they deposit the Contract of Sale at the appropriate District Office of the Department of Lands and Surveys according to the Sale of Lands (Specific Performance) Law, Cap 232”.
What possibly could be doubted from such emphatic statements from the Minister himself, backed up a Supreme Court ruling? Well, the judge in the private criminal prosecution brought by O’Dwyer clearly thought otherwise.
The defendants were found not guilty of ‘double selling’ fraud. Apparently, the judge decided that the prosecution had failed to prove, as required under criminal law, that the defendants had committed fraud ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’.
In my opinion as a non-lawyer, the prosecution would have had to prove a deliberate intention to permanently deprive the rightful owner of his property.
The judge acknowledged that O’Dwyer was the rightful owner and that he had lodged his sales contract at the Land Registry. She further acknowledged that he had made stage payments as per contract and that the developers had not returned his money, despite having re-sold the property to another person. The fact that the developers apparently have never offered or made any reimbursement of his money appears to demonstrate a deliberate intention to permanently deprive him of the property.
Under civil law, res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself) and ‘on the balance of probabilities’ would apply.
However, this was a criminal case and the judge felt that intent was not proven beyond all reasonable doubt. What other logical reason can be put forward for what they did? It cannot have been just an error or forgetfulness, as the matter was brought swiftly to their attention. By eliminating other potential defences such as insanity and intoxication, that just leaves ‘lack of intent’ and the purposefulness with which they went about it strongly suggests intent. After all these years and no hint of a repayment, the intent also looks pretty permanent! However, just as disturbing, and contrary to the precedent Supreme Court ruling, the judge also stated that lodging of a sales contract at the Land Registry does not automatically confer protection against ‘double selling’: “the fact they (plaintiffs) submitted a sales contract to the Land Registry did not mean they automatically and in perpetuity have become the ‘owners’ (as they mean it) of the residence.”
This judgment thus cancels the standard claim by government, developers, lawyers and agents that buyers are absolutely protected.
An appeal is being lodged with the Supreme Court and so the judge’s reasoning would be examined and evaluated formally when the appeal is heard.
Nevertheless, regardless of the final verdict on appeal, immense and irreversible damage has already been inflicted internationally by this and other cases on the Cyprus property market and the general reputation of Cyprus.
O’Dwyer alone is engaged in several other cases against his developers. They have already been found guilty of assaulting O’Dwyer in two separate cases and a civil claim for damages against them is still pending.
The Cyprus Property Scandal is not just about Title Deeds but the totality of factors that influence potential new buyers. Many existing foreign buyers report that they now feel terrified and their ‘Cyprus dream’ has been shattered. Potential new buyers simply strike Cyprus off their prospect list when they see earlier buyers being treated so badly.
Cyprus courts have no juries but millions of media and Internet users around the world, including potential new buyers of Cyprus properties, have become the proxy jury in the O’Dwyer cases and all the other horror stories they read or hear about. With yet more TV exposés imminent in the UK, there seems no end in sight to Cyprus’s property market woes.
Decent developers, lawyers and estate agents that I know (yes, they do exist) are exasperated and fearful of the obvious negative long-term impact on an already flat market. No sizeable developer can rely solely on domestic sales but what foreigner will buy here now?
The Cyprus economy also cannot afford to delay any recovery of its property sector. Prior to the downgrading of Cyprus’s financial ratings by Moodys, S&P and Fitch in recent weeks, Moody’s had cited Cyprus’s ailing property sector as a factor “as it remains a risk area with weak demand and unclear growth prospects”.
This deep self-inflicted wound requires urgent, radical treatment – not a sticking plaster, an aspirin and a hope that the patient will simply recover naturally. However, on Cyprus’s past record of inaction on these matters, the prognosis looks decidedly bleak.
Dr Alan Waring is an international risk management consultant with extensive experience in Europe, Asia and the Middle East with industrial, commercial and governmental clients. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Risk Management and is a founding member of the IRM Cyprus Regional Group. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
LAWYER Yiannos Georgiades, acting for Conor O’Dwyer, confirmed to the Cyprus Property News Magazine that an appeal has been filed against the court ruling last month that cleared property developer Karayiannas and Michelle McDonald of any wrongdoing.
The long awaited verdict from the court has caused many people to doubt the protection afforded to those buying property on the Island.
According to the Island’s ‘Specific Performance Law’, the deposit of a contact of sale at a Land Registry prevents a property from being sold for a second time. The contract can only be withdrawn from the Land Registry with the agreement of the vendor (Karayiannas) and the purchaser (Mr O’Dwyer) – or by a court order.
In the O’Dwyer case, the judge accepted that Mr O’Dwyer’s contract had been lodged with the Land Registry and that the developer had resold the property to someone else without O’Dwyer’s consent or a court order instructing the Land Registry to remove his contract.
Successive Governments have promised to revise the Island’s antiquated property laws to provide those buying property with added protection.
In July 2009 the Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis issued a statement that included the following:
“Despite our determination to cut this Gordian knot with the introduction of new legislation for the improvement and reformation of the planning system, as well as the system of issuing property titles, it must be clarified here that even the current system and the existing legislation protects buyers and their ownership status.”
Also in July 2009 the Permanent Secretary of the Interior Ministry wrote to Graham Watson MEP assuring him that:
“It is worth repeating that even under current legislation, buyers of immovable property are protected, once they deposit the Contract for Sale at the appropriate District Office of the Department of Lands and Surveys according to the Sale of Lands (Specific Performance) Law, Cap.232.”
However, the judge’s ruling the O’Dwyer’s case seems to contradict government assurances, as she did not believe that submission of a sales contract to the Land Registry was enough to guarantee a person’s property rights. As well as finding in favour of the defendants, she also ordered Mr O’Dwyer to pay their costs.
What does the coming year hold in store for the Cyprus property market? Pundits predict that things will be much the same as last year, but 2011 has not got off to an auspicious start.
2009 was a disastrous year for the Island’s property market and 2010 was not much better. After a promising start to last year with sales improving on 2009 figures, sales declined for six consecutive months between July and December.
The market in 2011 has not got off to an auspicious start with property issues once again making headlines in the English language press. This bad publicity will do nothing to encourage overseas buyers, and in particular British buyers, to return to the market.
Title Deed legislation?
Readers may recall that in June 2008, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis assured property buyers that legislation to resolve problems in the sector could be implemented by the end of the year.
Last week, more than two years after the deadline Mr Sylikiotis set himself, Chairman of the House Legal Affairs Committee proudly announced that the Island’s Deputies (MPs) had agreed a solution to one of the many problems that Mr Sylikiotis was looking to resolve – developers’ mortgages.
This solution graciously allows those buying property to repay part of the developer’s mortgage to get the Title Deeds to their home.
Of course, this solution is merely a way of ensuring the present system continues virtually unhindered and does nothing to protect buyers from the crooks and conmen that plague the Island’s property industry.
Details of the other legislative changes being proposed have yet to emerge. But if they are as ridiculous as last week’s ‘solution’, no-one will be delighted; apart from perhaps the Banks and property developers.
Also last week we received news that District Lands Offices (DLO) are continuing to overvalue property when assessing the Property Transfer Fees. These fees are effectively a sales tax payable at the legal completion of a sale and are equivalent to the Stamp Duty Land Tax or SDLT, charged on property transactions in the UK.
In some reported cases DLO valuations are more than double the property’s purchase price.
Let us take an example of a recent case of overvaluing by the Paphos DLO of a property bought in joint names (husband & wife) to see the impact of this practice:
Property Transfer Fees based on the €130,000 paid to the developer – €3,900
Property Transfer Fees based on the Land Registry’s market valuation of €280,000 – €10,582.80
This overvaluation by the Land Registry cost the buyer an additional €6,682.80 in Property Transfer Fees.
If the property had been purchased in a single name, the additional Property Transfer Fees would have amounted to a cool €10,774.19.
Although the buyer has the right to challenge the Land Registry valuation, it would be Land Registry staff who would undertake the on-site revaluation of the property. How objective and impartial would their valuation be?
Impartial legal system?
The impartiality of the Cypriot legal system was brought into question last week following the unexpected verdict in the celebrated Conor O’Dwyer saga that has been dragging on for the last five years.
Mr O’Dwyer lost his private criminal prosecution against property developer Christoforos Karayiannas & Son Ltd concerning the sale of his house for a second time. The prosecution case against the woman who bought the house, Michelle McDonald, also failed.
Despite damning evidence to the contrary, the judge ruled that Christoforos Karayiannas had not committed fraud by selling Mr O’Dwyer’s home for a second time to someone else, and to add insult to injury, she ordered O’Dwyer to pay the defendants costs.
Speaking to the Cyprus Mail after the judgement Mr O’Dwyer said “My worst fears have come true. What this means is that a developer can keep your money and never deliver your house, then if they want they can re-sell it. Our contract is in the Land Registry and someone else is in our house, it’s that simple.”
There has been much discussion on Internet forums about the judge’s decision. Some believe she was bribed, some say she was leaned on by the local mafia, others say that she deliberately interpreted the law incorrectly to favour the Cypriot defendants.
Mr O’Dwyer’s lawyer, Yiannos Georgiades will file an appeal with the Supreme Court in the next few days, provided that the Attorney General gives his consent. “It’s a mistake on the judge’s part”, he said.
It is difficult to see how the Island’s property market will not be damaged further by these events. It is also difficult to see how Cyprus can recover from the damage without its government taking immediate and effective action to resolve the many problems and restore overseas investor confidence.
LAWYERS ON both sides of the Conor O’Dwyer vs Karayannas Developers dispute are sharpening their pencils in anticipation of the next bout in this high-profile property dispute.
Last week’s court decision clearing Karayannas Developers of the charge of criminal fraud over a disputed villa in Frenaros is by no means the end of the line in the long-running saga.
O’Dwyer bought the property on land belonging to the developers in 2005; disagreements arose soon after when he noticed that the construction did not match the designs he was shown when making the purchase.
He also claims that the villa was later resold without his knowledge, causing him not only to lose the property but also e1/4100,000 in installments he had paid to the developer up to that point.
O’Dwyer lost the private criminal case he brought against the developers because the judge deemed that he did not establish, beyond reasonable doubt, intent to defraud on the part of the defendants.
The legal action initiated was based on section 303A of the penal code, which states: “Any person who, with intent to defraud, deals in immovable property belonging to another is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.”
Intent to defraud is defined as “having knowledge or, given the circumstances, ought to have knowledge, that he did not have the consent of the registered owner of the immovable property or of any other person legally empowered to provide such consent.”
The judge in the criminal case said the burden of proof was on O’Dwyer to demonstrate that the accused (the developers and the second buyer) intended to commit fraud.
O’Dwyer’s lawyer Yiannos Georgiades said they would be filing an appeal with the Supreme Court sometime in the next few days, provided the Attorney-general gives his consent.
In her verdict, the judge said that, at the time the complainant filed the sale contract with Land Registry, there was no evidence that the defendants (the developers and the second buyer) intended to cheat O’Dwyer.
Georgiades said this was a major point he would be contesting in his appeal with the Supreme Court: “Mr. O’Dwyer has never claimed that the developers intended to cheat him from the outset, or from the time he filed the sale contract. Rather, his position is that they tried to defraud him at a later stage, due to their disagreements over the villa.”
Therefore the judge’s reasoning on the question of intent to defraud should have referred to the time when the developers sold the property to the second buyer, Georgiades explained.
“It’s a mistake on the judge’s part,” said Georgiades.
“In my opinion, the judge also failed to follow a previous Supreme Court decision according to which a buyer of a property becomes the owner of the property in equity provided he files the contract of sale with the Land Registry.”
The developers claim that they sold the house a second time after notifying O’Dwyer of the termination of their contract.
In her verdict, the judge noted she was not convinced that once someone files a property with the Land Registry that means they “automatically and in perpetuity become the ‘owners’ of the residence.”
The judge noted that since the dispute — whether the contract was terminated or not — is pending before another (civil) court, she could not rule on who was the rightful owner of the property and that therefore this became a moot point as far as the case before her was concerned.
She further observed that the best course of action for the complainant (O’Dwyer) would have been to first resolve that dispute in civil court before embarking on a criminal case.
He elaborated: “If this ruling stands, we would be shooting ourselves in the foot. It’s like telling foreigners, you’re not safe when you buy property in Cyprus. And ironically enough, this is despite existing law which does afford protection.”
The next battleground is in civil court, where the developers are suing O’Dwyer for libel but are also seeking to prove that they did terminate the contract with him, and that thus they were within their rights to sell the same property to another buyer. The first hearings are scheduled for February.
Supreme Court legislation states that as soon as a contract is filed by a buyer with the Land Registry, the buyer is the beneficial owner of a property provided they fulfill all their contractual obligations.
The latter phrase is key to the case of the developers, who argue that their contract with O’Dwyer was terminated when, they say, he breached the contract by refusing to pay the remaining installments.
Georgiades counters his client was willing to continue installments but was refused by the company.
Efthimios Flourentzou, lawyer for Karayannas Developers, says that O’Dwyer had issued the developers a “verbal ultimatum: ‘either give me a large sum of money or else a more expensive villa’.” An allegation which O’Dwyer has flatly denied.
“He did not want the house, it seems,” Flourentzou said. “With his behaviour, Mr. O’Dwyer has severed all ties with my clients.”
He was referring to a website created by O’Dwyer chronicling the affair and casting aspersions on the developers.
But Georgiades has an entirely different take: “Even if a property buyer is said to have not fulfilled the terms of a contract, the contract cannot be terminated unilaterally by either party. You have to go to court, which will decide on the case. Until that time, the buyer remains the beneficial owner, and is entitled to specific performance.
“Imagine what would happen if developers were allowed with impunity to wriggle out of a contract because of complications with a buyer, and then re-sell the property to another. It’s not logical.”
Georgiades went on to muse why, in the first place, Karayannas Developers were going to civil court to validate that their contract with O’Dwyer has been terminated.
“If they indeed lawfully terminated the contract — which is what they’re saying — then why are they going to court to prove it?”
He said the developers did not give O’Dwyer two-weeks notice, as stipulated in the contract, to pay the installments or else they would terminate the contract.
“Instead, they gave him a choice: either keep up payments or give up the house. This was sent by a letter through their lawyers.”
FATHER AND son Christoforos and Marios Karayannas were yesterday found guilty of assaulting their client Conor O’Dwyer in 2006. The case, tried in the Famagusta district court, relates to the first assault on Conor by the developers from whom he had bought a villa.
The injuries sustained during this assault were not serious. Conor was assaulted again in 2008 by Karayannas and ended up in hospital for six days with serious injuries. The civil case for this assault is still pending.
Both father and son were found guilty of the second assault by the Criminal Court of Famagusta last year and although the judge pronounced a 10-month prison sentence, the sentence was suspended. The Attorney General is appealing against the suspension of the sentence and the decision issued by the judge, on the grounds that they were found guilty of actual bodily harm and not grievous bodily harm.
In court yesterday, the judge noted that both defendants are liable for the injuries that they caused to O’Dwyer and the damage to his video camera. The judge did not accept the argument that the defendants tried to use reasonable force to prevent the plaintiff from entering their property. The plaintiff was in a public place and was not trespassing. According to the judge, the two defendants tried to stop O’Dwyer from leaving the place. The judge said the defendants forcefully grabbed the plaintiff’s mobile, preventing him from calling his lawyer and then grabbed his video camera. They pushed him around while he was trying to get into his car, injuring him and they broke his camera. The Court ordered the defendants to pay the plaintiff total damages of €1,739 plus interest and legal fees.
During the trial the defendants claimed that the incidents were triggered by O’Dwyer’s behaviour. They said he was ruining their reputation on the internet because of a dispute with them over a property transaction. The judge dismissed this, saying “…any disputes among people who enter into commercial transactions are not resolved by the use of force or by causing fear or through verbal abuse.”