Crete murder accused granted bail

A British man accused of murdering his girlfriend on the holiday island of Crete will return home for the first time in more than two years after he was granted bail.

Luke Walker, 24, of Brierley Hill near Dudley, West Midlands, has always denied killing 20-year-old Chelsea Hyndman. Chelsea, of Castleford, West Yorkshire, died after she was taken to hospital with abdominal pains in May 2010.

Greek prosecutors claim she was beaten by Walker, who is charged with one count of murder at Heraklion Mixed Criminal Court. But Walker says she fell during a night out in the nearby resort town of Malia, where the pair were living and working as bar staff.

After the four jurors were sworn in, Walker spoke through an interpreter to confirm his identity. He gave his occupation as electrician and told the three judges he lived in Stalis, a coastal resort in Crete.

The court sat for less than an hour before adjourning because key prosecution witnesses had not been summoned. Many of the witnesses who did attend had flown in from Britain. Chelsea's mother, Heather, and her family also watched proceedings from the front rows of the public gallery.

The Walkers' solicitor, George Pyromallis, asked that the defendant be allowed to return to England on bail. Walker has spent the last two and a half years in Crete, initially on remand for five months before he was granted bail on the condition he did not leave the island.

The Walker family were visibly emotional, some in tears, as the court granted him bail to the UK.

Speaking after the hearing, Luke said it was the "best outcome so far", adding: "I expected the trial to go ahead today - I thought this would be it now. I haven't even thought about what I'll do when I get home. It hasn't crossed my mind. I'm actually feeling a bit scared about it but it's amazing news. All I want to do is clear my name."

His parents, who have been splitting their time between Crete and England to support their son and help organise the case, said they were shocked by the development. "I'm just so glad he's going home," said his father, Patrick, who added that the case has put massive financial pressure on him and his wife, Lindy. "But to know it's not over and we still have the trial to come is hard."

Chelsea's family, who appeared upset, left without speaking to the media. No date for the trial has been fixed.