Boyfriend Guilty Over Castleford Girl's Death
30 May 2013, 07:46
A 25-year-old man's been convicted of killing his Castleford girlfriend on the Greek island of Crete.
Luke Walker was initially charged with murdering girlfriend 20 year old Chelsea Hyndman, who died on May 17th, 2010.
But during the two-day trial, the charge was downgraded to GBH leading to death, and the jury found him guilty.
Walker, from Brierley Hill, near Dudley, was given an eight-year sentence for the crime, which his legal team immediately appealed against.
He was told the sentence would be suspended and he could go back to England if he paid a €10,000 (£8,552) bail surety.
But he will have to return to the Greek island at a later date for a retrial at an appeals court.
His parents, friends and other family members were in court for the trial.
Walker, who looked shocked and tired as the verdict and sentence came in, did not comment as he left court but his father, Patrick, said it was not quite the outcome they had hoped for.
"It wasn't the result that we wanted, obviously. He was hoping to be acquitted.
With the circumstantial evidence that they were putting forward we were quite confident that we would get the result.
When he gave out eight years I could have died; I thought how are we going to live, how are we going to cope with this?
We were devastated but we've appealed. We've obviously got to come back again to an appeal court but he's (defence barrister George Pyromallis) much more confident in an appeal court he will win and he will get Luke off.
Although it's still hanging over our heads at least he's not in prison, which is the main thing.''
During the trial the court heard that Miss Hyndman died after she was taken to hospital with abdominal pains and ill health in May 2010.
She died on May 17th from acute peritonitis, having suffered deteriorating health for a number of days.
Greek prosecutors claim Miss Hyndman was beaten by Walker, but he told the court he did not know the reasons for her death.
Miss Hyndman's mother, Heather, and her partner Neil Lorriman were in court for the trial but declined to comment at the end.
In his testimony to the court Walker, who lived with his girlfriend of two years in the town of Malia where they both worked in bars, said "my whole life fell apart'' as she was rushed to hospital the day before she died.
A few days before, in the early hours of May 12th, the couple had arrived back at the apartment they shared together and Miss Hyndman, who had been unwell, became irritated with Walker because he began cooking and she was feeling nauseous.
They had a "little bicker'', Walker said, and she went out. He assumed she had gone to a friend's nearby apartment.
Asked by the trial judge if he had pushed her, if she had hit against any furniture, or if he had hurt her, he replied 'no''.
"You're saying categorically, adamantly, no?'' Walker was asked. "No I didn't,'' he said.
The court heard that in the lead-up to Miss Hyndman's death she had become increasingly ill. Her stomach was bloated, her eyes a yellow colour, she was sick and constipated, and witnesses said she appeared weak.
Asked what he thought was the reason for her death Walker, who gripped the edge of the witness box as he gave his testimony, said:
"All I know is that I stand here trying to tell you what I know.
I know I'm innocent. I'm here to clear my name. Chelsea was my whole life.
I don't know how she died...I know I'm innocent.''
The court heard that Miss Hyndman died from acute peritonitis as a result of a blow to her abdomen. This had caused damage to her pancreas and resulted in a leakage of pancreatic digestive fluids. She was operated on in hospital but doctors were unable to save her.
The trial heard from a number of witnesses who testified that Miss Hyndman and Walker had a loving relationship and did not appear to quarrel more than any other couple.
Some of Miss Hyndman's female friends who had been with her on a girl's night out in Malia on May 6th described how she had a bad accident that evening.
She had fallen on a cobbled street as the group played a game where a word was called out and they all had to drop to the floor.
Miss Hyndman, who friends said was wearing very high heels, was holding a glass as she toppled onto the floor and landed with her left arm under her body near her stomach area.
She told friends she was fine and the evening continued, but she later complained of some pain in her stomach area.
Many of her friends also said she and Walker had talked about a future together and were happy.
Mr Walker said the years since Miss Hyndman's death and since his son was arrested and charged had been "so stressful it's hard to put it into words''.
"You can't move on in your life and we've got it again.
We can't really move on in life and be a normal family, it's back to square one again, but it's another step on the ladder to his freedom.
If I thought he was guilty I wouldn't be doing this for him. That's the whole thing.
If he was guilty he'd still be my son and I'd love him but I'd expect him to do his time. He's not guilty.''