THE devastated family of a dad killed on holiday face further delays in their fight for justice after a judge suspended a trial.
Relatives and friends of Joe Arthur hoped to see an end to their five-and-a-half year battle for the truth, when the trial of those accused of being responsible for the Wearside holidaymaker’s death started this week.
But they were dealt another blow when the judge adjourned the Greek court for two days, for personal reasons.
At the end of the first day of the scheduled five-day trial, she told the court that it would not reconvene until Thursday.
The move means the top UK neurosurgeon and pathologist due to give key evidence in the case may not be able to attend, because of vital work commitments.
The Sunderland family fears this will jeopardise their chances of securing convictions against the South African barman and two medics standing trial.
“It’s an absolute nightmare,” said Joe’s sister, Tracy Page.
“The judge knows these professionals have important, life-saving jobs and can’t keep leaving.
“It’s an insult that they’re messing these people around.
“They don’t know if they’ll be able to get back this week, but the court doesn’t seem to care.
“It’s absolutely horrendous. We’re following every single rule of their system and doing everything we’re meant to do, and they’re doing the exact opposite.
“It’s unbelievable what we’re being put through and it’s soul-destroying. Everybody is so deflated.”
On Monday, it took the court two hours to read out the charges, before Joe’s partner Leigh-Anne Bennett, who was on holiday when the attack took place, spent four hours giving evidence.
The judge then made the adjournment announcement before closing the court for the day.
Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson pushed the UK Government for help last week, and yesterday called on the Foreign Office to take urgent action.
She said: “It is a step in the right direction that the trial has started, but it is extremely disappointing that there have again been significant problems.
“I have pressed the Foreign Office to do all they can to make sure that the trial continues without delay, and that the expert witnesses can give their evidence.”
Joe, 34, of Grindon, was on holiday in Corfu with Leigh-Anne and his children Mollie, now 13, and Rhys, 11, when he was attacked in the street in 2006.
Greek medics claimed he suffered a heart attack, but a Sunderland coroner ordered a further two post-mortem examinations, which revealed he died of a brain haemorrhage from a blow to the head.
In 2007, Greek police charged three people after Northumbria Police detectives flew to the country.
A barman, 45, is accused of landing the fatal blows and two medics who treated Joe in hospital were charged with neglect leading to manslaughter.
Since then the trial has been dogged with delays and adjournments from defence solicitors.