In the Media

Liam Hogan inquest delivers unlawful killing verdict against father

PUBLISHED November 30, 2011

Second inquest upholds 2008 verdict, which high court had overturned over doubts about John Hogan's mental state

A father accused of pushing his son to his death from the balcony of a Greek hotel killed the child unlawfully, a coroner has ruled.

The inquest on six-year-old Liam Hogan was told that his father, John, appeared to shove the boy and his two-year-old sister, Mia, before leaping off the balcony himself.

Mia and John Hogan survived the 50ft (15m) fall but Liam died of head injuries.

Hogan, 37, was judged by doctors in Greece to be mentally ill at the time of the tragedy in August 2006 and cleared there of the killing.

The inquest at Flax Bourton, near Bristol, however, heard fresh evidence from a British-based consultant forensic psychologist, Akuntundi Akinkummi, who said he did not believe Hogan was insane or suffering from a "disease of the mind".

Hogan and his wife, Natasha Visser, of Bradley Stoke, South Gloucestershire, had been on the verge of breaking up when they went on holiday to Crete.

Akinkummi, who is based at the Cygnet hospital in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, said: "He may have come to the conclusion that if he could not have the kids then she wasn't."

Recording her verdict on Wednesday, Avon coroner Maria Voisin said: "Liam's father was not labouring with a defect of the mind. The most appropriate verdict based on all the evidence is that of unlawful killing."

Outside court, relatives of Liam said they would absorb the verdict before deciding if they should press for charges to be brought in Britain against Hogan.

Liam's maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Chandler, 60, said: "We are extremely relieved with the verdict. We believe it is the right verdict to do justice for Liam. It has been most gruelling and heartbreaking to have to go through the last events of Liam's life."

Hogan, who has since been divorced by Visser, is currently receiving treatment under the Mental Heath Act at a psychiatric unit.

The inquest took place after the original 2008 verdict ? that Liam was unlawfully killed ? was overturned by the high court because Hogan's mental state had not been fully addressed. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds