Monday, August 1, 2011

Brit teen stabbed to death in Zante - Mirror.co.uk

 A former England mascot was yesterday stabbed to death after a row over a cab fare on the isle of Zante. Robert Sebbage, 18, who at 14 proudly stood alongside skipper David Beckham before a Wembley match against Brazil, was attacked by two drivers wielding a knife and baseball bat. Four other pals were hurt, one badly. Grieving dad Andrew, of Tadley, Hants, said: "We are devastated, it makes no sense."

Robert Sebbage as mascot for England with former captain David Beckham (Pic: Getty Images)


IT started out as just another night of holiday fun for a bunch of close teenage mates enjoying their first foreign jaunt together.


But the laughter quickly turned to terror as one, Robert Sebbage, was stabbed to death by an angry cabbie and pal Jordan Manson left seriously injured after a brawl sparked by a boozy row over fares.


And last night, 18-year-old Robert’s distraught family were struggling to come to term with the senseless waste of their son’s life. Grieving dad Andrew choked back tears as he said: “We are all absolutely devastated but we still don’t know the full facts of what happened to him.


“All of the other boys’ families were round here until the early hours of the morning trying to make sense of it all.”


As he spoke, the postman arrived with Reading fan Robert’s football season ticket for the coming Championship campaign.


Andrew collapsed and screamed: “I can’t believe it, it’s his season ticket.”


Robert, who at 14 stood next to England captain David Beckham on the Wembley turf as an England mascot before a friendly in 2007, was cornered down an alleyway, stabbed through the heart and left to die in a pool of blood. The cabbies were armed with knives and baseball bats.

The scene where Robert Sebbage was killed (Pic: Nikos) The scene of Robert's death


Taxi driver Stelios Morfis has been charged with premeditated murder. A second, Dimosthenes Mylonas, 25, was held after being accused of acting as an accomplice in the attack at Laganas on the Greek island of Zante.


It is claimed the friends, who grew up together, had been shining laser beam torches at the drivers after arguing about the cost of a trip to their hotel.


Jordan, 18, was last night in hospital with serious knife wounds. Friends, Samuel Champion, Steven Granston, both 19, and Callum Lane, 18, were also injured in the brawl. None of the friends, who grew up together, were armed.


Jordan’s furious dad Nigel said the group were not troublemakers and were the sort to walk away from ­confrontations.


He added: “My son was attacked and left for dead. None of them has ever been in trouble. They have been pals for years and went to the same schools and colleges.


“This was their first trip abroad and the first time they had gone on a proper holiday together. And now this terrible thing has happened. There was apparently an ­altercation with a taxi driver.


“The taxi driver left the scene and the boys were walking along the road when he came back with another man.


“They were armed with a baseball bat and a knife and just went for them. I think they stabbed Robert and the others in the back. Jordan was stabbed twice in the front.


“The important thing though, is that they were running away. They could see they had weapons and they ran from the trouble. That’s the sort of boys they are.


“I feel sick at the thought that someone could do this. It was their first holiday together and it will certainly be their last. Jordan will never get over this.”


Witnesses said the fight broke out after one of the friends shone the laser pen at the cabbies. The murder weapon was thrown into the sea. It was later ­recovered by officers investigating the incident. Police chief Dimitris Angeloudis said the fight was at 3am yesterday on the main street. He claimed the teenagers were rowing about fares with the cabbies as they tried to get back after a night out.


Mr Angeloudis said one middle-aged driver left in anger but two younger ones stepped into the row.


He added: “Tempers flared, they started exchanging insults, then they started beating each other. Witnesses ­testified that there was a fully fledged brawl. Then the accused drew a knife and stabbed the victim several times in the side of the ribs, at the level of the heart.


“He has confessed to his actions and has been charged with ­premeditated murder. The second taxi driver was also involved in the fighting and has been charged as an accomplice, because he did nothing to prevent his colleague.


“There is no evidence whatsoever that the British youths were armed with knives or any similar dangerous instrument.” Morfis faces up to life in jail if found guilty of killing Robert. He yesterday claimed he acted “in self defence” and said that he “got angry because the English were mocking us and trying to block our vision with laser lights”.


Morfis claimed many Zante cabbies now carry knives or iron rods “as a means of defending ourselves against drunken British tourists”. There have been several violent ­incidents involving Brits at Greek resorts this summer, but this is the first death.


Mr Angeloudis added: “We have had a ­particularly bad year with drunken British tourists, with many brawls and beatings between rival English gangs and incidents with locals.


“But this made our worst fears come true. A ­holidaymaker lost his life over a misunderstanding, over insults and macho behaviour by young men on either side.


“It’s a shame that such a beautiful resort area is being so badly damaged because of these incidents.” Robert shared a house with his dad in the village of Tadley, Hants, near ­Basingstoke. He spent most of his young life in and out of hospital struggling with neuropathic bowel disorder which meant his body found it difficult to process food and drink in the usual way.


The friends were all believed to have met while studying together at Hurst Community College in north Hampshire.


Head Malcolm Christian said they were saddened to hear of Robert’s death.


He added: “He held a special place in our hearts for the way in which he had fought hard to overcome a significant medical condition when he was younger.


“We remember the many friendships he had created, his quiet tenacity in overcoming adversity and how well he achieved with us at GCSE level prior to going on to sixth form college.”


Robert was due to resume studying at Queen Mary’s Community College, ­Basingstoke, in September. Andrew said he immediately tried to fly out to Greece after hearing of his son’s death yesterday but there were no available flights.


The friends booked their holiday with Thomas Cook. A spokesman said: “Our thoughts and sympathy are with the family and friends at this very distressing time. We are offering our full support both in the resort and in the UK to the family and travelling companions.” Robert’s body has been sent to a hospital in Rio on the ­mainland for a final autopsy today.


The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We can confirm five British nationals were involved in a serious incident.


“Sadly, this resulted in the death of one British national.”


Greek deputy tourism minister George Nikitiades expressed his “deep ­condolences to the family of the victim”.


Morfis worked for Zante Radio Taxi. President Marinos Nikos said last night he was “very sorry for the family’s loss”.


Robert's proudest day


Robert was just 14 when he starred as a mascot before a friendly against Brazil when the rebuilt national stadium opened in 2007.


Following the 1-1 draw, Robert told his local newspaper: “I still can’t believe I was there.


“When we were in the tunnel waiting for the players, I thought I was going to be with Lampard at first, then Joe Cole was next to me, but then everyone moved up and David Beckham was stood there. He nodded at me and I just couldn’t believe it. It was an amazing day.”


Robert suffered a rare bowel disease and was selected to appear by charity Rays of Sunshine.


He was driven in a limousine to the big game.


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