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Friday, July 15, 2011

First picture of taxi driver accused of killing ex-England football mascot: He was 'an accident waiting to happen'

-Second teenager suffered punctured lung
-Stelios Morfis had previously attacked tourist and had a 'short fuse'
-Former school prepare to hold minute's silence
-5,000 pay tribute on Facebook page set up in his memory

By Nick Mcdermott and Neil Sears

Posing with his Rottweilers, this is the taxi driver who allegedly stabbed a British teenager to death on a Greek holiday island.

Robert Sebbage, 18, was stabbed in the heart in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Taxi driver Stelios Morfis, who will be charged with murder today, was described by locals as ‘an accident waiting to happen’.

Robert’s friend Jordan Manson, 18, was left with a punctured lung, and three other British teens suffered minor stab wounds in the vicious assault on the island of Zakynthos.

Back in Hampshire, Mr Sebbage’s former school, Hurst Community College, was preparing to hold a minute’s silence today for the tragic teenager.

His former head teacher, Malcolm Christian, said yesterday: ‘All at the Hurst Community College were saddened to hear of Robert’s untimely death.

‘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.’

Supporters of Reading Football Club – the team the former England football mascot followed – were also calling for a minute’s silence before the first game of the season against Millwall next month.

By yesterday afternoon, more than 5,000 people had left messages on a Facebook condolences page.

Stabbed: Robert Sebbage's dream came true when he was given the chance to be an England mascot

The teen was remembered as a ‘gentle’ young man by former teachers and friends.

One, Sandie Jones, wrote: ‘I remember teaching Robert at Bishopswood School... Not fair, why the gentlest of people are taken first, Tadley missing an angel tonight.’

Mr Sebbage’s family said in a statement yesterday: ‘All these young men are very close friends.

‘They are simply just a bunch of nice lads and this is their first holiday abroad and they had all gone just to enjoy themselves.’

His parents, Rhian and Andrew, have flown to Greece. Andrew Sebbage said the family was ‘devastated’.

Close: Stabbing victim Robert Sebbage, left, with his brother Steven

Mr Sebbage had been picked as a mascot for the England team’s 2007 friendly against Brazil at Wembley by the Rays of Sunshine charity. He stood alongside David Beckham.

The youngster was a victim of the bowel disorders, Eosinophilic colitis and gut dysmotility, which led to part of his intestine being removed.

More details of the incident emerged yesterday.

In the hours after the fatal attack, Morfis attempted to evade police capture on a speedboat he had moored at a marina, according to reports. But officers tracked the 21-year-old thug, described by one local as ‘an accident waiting to happen’, to a relative’s house.

Murder scene: The spot on the central Laganas street where the brawl and killing took place

The family home where Robert lived with his parents Andrew and Rhian

The group allegedly provoked Morfis by shining a laser pen at him. Following his arrest, he told Greek police he snapped, stating: ‘I could not stand the insults and the mockery they were throwing at us.’

Morfis was arrested earlier this month for punching a man in the face. Morfis and his accomplice Dimosthenes Mylonas, 25, will appear in the island’s court today to be charged over the death.

Yesterday, residents said the British youths had simply run into the ‘wrong guy’.

Shop owner Nikos Liveras, 52, said: ‘He is known for having a short fuse. He would explode at anyone for no reason at all and has been involved in many arguments with tourists. He’s not the type to back down.’



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