Three years on, still no justice for family of British man killed by drunk driver in North Cyprus

The sister of a man killed by a drunk driver in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus has said the family are going through a “never-ending nightmare” due to constant delays to the trial against the alleged perpetrator.

Debbie Wolstencroft shared her frustrations with T-VINE about trying to get justice for her late brother David Shepherd (pictured, top). Despite the suspect being caught by TRNC police three years ago, when he was found to be three times over the legal limit, he has yet to face trial.

Ms Wolstencroft’s brother David was tragically hit by a car while walking along the main Girne-to- Güzelyurt road on the evening of 3 April 2021. The driver never stopped, leaving David fatally injured by the roadside in Karşıyaka.

David was aged just 60 when he died. Originally from Edgware in Middlesex and an electrician by profession, David decided to move to North Cyprus after his best friend and family had decided to permanently live there.

“He [David] had lived there for nine very happy years,” Ms Wolstencroft explains. But this “much loved brother, uncle and cousin” was killed one night by a driver who, when breathalysed, was found to have 156 milligrams of alcohol in his blood – more than three times over the legal limit of 49 milligrams.

Police tracked down and detained the driver for three days. Although blood tests of the driver responsible for the crash are required to be taken in the TRNC following a serious road traffic accident as further evidence, David’s sister believes this did not happen in this case:

“Despite it being compulsory for blood tests to be taken in these circumstances to our knowledge no blood tests were taken.”

The suspect, an elderly British male who local media said also suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, was subsequently released on bail after surrendering his passport and driving licence to the police.

“No one cares and we are left in limbo”

“The trial commenced on 17 March 2023. It has been adjourned many, many times since then. We do not know why and the police and courts have never made contact with us,” Ms Wolstencroft stated.

“We are extremely frustrated and concerned by the slow, one could say non-existent, progress of the case,” David’s sister said, before adding, “As a family we cannot begin to heal until we see justice done.”

The most recent hearing was held on 23 March of this year, but yet again the case was adjourned. The next hearing is due on Tuesday, 28 May.

“I feel very upset and tearful, the nightmare is never ending and the perpetrator must be laughing at the whole system,” an understandably upset Ms Wolstencroft told T-VINE after the latest adjournment, adding, “The perpetrator has been able to enjoy his family while David lost everything.”

The grieving family are also upset that promised road improvements where David died have not materialised. Following the fatal accident, Turkish Cypriot authorities had pledged to create a proper pavement and install lighting between the 13th and 14th kilometre stretch of road by Karşıyaka.

“At the time of the incident, the TRNC’s Public Works and Transport Minister attended the scene and promised works would be completed to make the area safer for residents, but to date nothing has been done. It feels to us, David’s family, that no one cares and we are left in limbo,”  Ms Wolstencroft stated.

“David was a good person, he never broke the law or hurt anyone in his lifetime and it feels to us he has been let down by the whole process.”

Keen for justice to be finally served, David’s sister has written to TRNC President Ersin Tatar but has yet to receive a reply. She has also contacted the  TRNC Ministry of Interior and police officer dealing with her brother’s case asking for an update, which they have promised to provide.

Changes needed to the TRNC legal system

Seeing the large number of fatal road traffic accidents in the TRNC since her brother’s death, the vast majority caused by drunk or careless drivers, has also left Ms Wolstencroft and her family dismayed.

In 2021 – the year that David died – there was 32 deaths on North Cyprus’ roads. Records show over 360 fatal road traffic accidents in the past ten years, including 47 in 2023 – one of the worst years on record in the TRNC.

Given the country’s relatively small population, the high levels of causalties on TRNC roads make them among the most dangerous in Europe.

David’s sister wants the TRNC Government to act firmly and decisively on the issue. so that others in a similar predicament to David’s family can have justice.

Ms Wolstencroft urges TRNC residents to “to write to their MP” to “demand” changes to the law, to serve as a more effective deterrent to future offenders and punish those responsible for death on the roads more severely.

“The [TRNC] legal system needs to act as a deterrent to reckless driving and excess alcohol intake when driving.

“[People who cause accidents] driving while under the influence of excess alcohol and driving recklessly should be dealt with swiftly and effectively, with harsh penalties imposed.”