Coroner refuses to question Greek court verdict over woman’s death abroad

Chelsea Hyndman pictured with her former boyfriend Luke Walker.
Chelsea Hyndman pictured with her former boyfriend Luke Walker.

A coroner has refused to question a Greek court’s verdict over the cause of death of a young Castleford woman on a holiday island.

Chelsea Hyndman, 20, died following an assault from her boyfriend Luke Walker in Crete in 2010, after suffering major damage to her pancreas.

Walker, now 29, from the West Midlands, was eventually found guilty of GBH with negligence by a Greek court in 2015 and given a three-year suspended sentence.

A Home Office pathologist report said her injuries were consistent with a serious assault.

However, during the three-day inquest at Wakefield Coroners’ Court this week, medical experts gave evidence to suggest Chelsea’s injuries could have been caused by a drunken fall 11 days before her death.

On this basis, Walker’s barrister, Andrew Scott, requested the coroner consider questioning the Greek’s court’s proceedings when delivering his own verdict into her death.

But area coroner, Jonathan Leach, refused, saying: “The proceedings were in Greece, a country within the EU, with a democracy and civilisation which goes well beyond our own, therefore the trial can not be criticised.

“I can’t make a determination inconsistent with what was found in Greece, where Mr Walker was found guilty.

“It means the only conclusion available to me is unlawful killing and a narrative verdict.

“As a result of blunt force trauma to the abdomen, my conclusion is that of a narrative conclusion.”

Mr Scott said after the inquest that Walker’s family had intended to push for a judicial review into the verdict.

Chelsea and Walker had met in Crete in 2008, returning to the island each year to work through the summer seasons.

Despite reports from the trial in Greece that suggested the couple regularly argued in the apartment they shared, testimony from a number of their friends described them as a happy couple.

Walker assaulted Chelsea on May 12, 2010, five days before she died, but her friends reported that she had already begun to look jaundiced around that time.

Pancreas expert, Professor Colin Johnson, told the inquest that the jaundice could have been caused by the drunken fall outside the bar on May 6.

She began feeling unwell in the days that followed, but Walker - who continues to deny that he assaulted her - told the inquest that she had refused to go to hospital and telling friends that she was feeling better.

She was eventually admitted on May 16 and underwent surgery but the damage to her pancreas caused major organ failure and she died on May 17, 2010.

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