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Families of victims attacked overseas storm parliament

PUBLISHED: 16:43 09 December 2009 | UPDATED: 11:14 12 August 2010

LIFE SUPPORT: Rob Hughes who was attacked last year in Crete.

LIFE SUPPORT: Rob Hughes who was attacked last year in Crete.

SOMEBODY is getting news right now that their loved one has been killed or attacked or raped abroad, it s happening all the time. We thought we were the only ones when it happened to us but we were so wrong. It s happening every minute. These are the w

LIFE SUPPORT: Rob Hughes who was attacked last year in Crete.

SOMEBODY is getting news right now that their loved one has been killed or attacked or raped abroad, it's happening all the time. We thought we were the only ones when it happened to us but we were so wrong. It's happening every minute."

These are the words of a mother who is calling for the government to provide better support for victims of crime abroad after her son was left for dead following an assault in Crete.

Maggie Hughes, 56, told a packed committee room at the House of Commons on Tuesday how her son Robbie, 29, was left with a caved in skull after being attacked outside a nightclub on June 17 2008.

He was about to be signed to Bromley Football Club before the shocking assault in which five men kicked him to the ground before stamping on his head and holding him down and bottling him.

After spending months in a Greek hospital where he underwent several operations to relieve the pressure on his swollen brain, he was eventually discharged in September last year when the doctors named him 'Miracle Man'.

Mrs Hughes, from Wallington, Surrey, said: "He is still on anti-fitting tablets and still has memory loss. I don't think we will ever get back the Robbie that we used to know. His character has changed. He has very bad OCD- he washes his hands a lot. Someone will go to give him a kiss and he will move away or go and wash his face afterwards.

"His brothers and sisters are going through hell and back because they have lost their Robbie. He used to be the really strong one of the family. It has affected so many of us in so many different ways. Hopefully in the future we will get back more of the old Robbie"

Mrs Hughes told MPs at the meeting how she wants the government to use the experience of victims and their families to create a one-stop-shop where they can get support when tragedy strikes abroad.

She feels she was let down by tour operators, the embassies, the Greek and British police and politicians when her son was attacked but says she is not seeking to blame anyone.

She said: "Let me give you a scenario - you're stuck in Greece or Portugal or wherever. Your loved one is on a life support machine, you can't speak the language, what do you do?

"You have so many emotions- you are pulling your hair out, thinking 'who can help me?' There is a certain amount the embassy can do but there's a lot they can't. You think, 'why haven't the police visited yet? Why do I have to do my own investigation?'

"You are angry, you are frustrated, you're worn out and stressed and you still have to deal with the situation of your loved one. There should be people doing this for you so you can concentrate on that.

"We are trying to get as much information together for the next victim. Somebody is getting news right now that their loved one has been killed or attacked or raped abroad, it's happening all the time.

"We are not asking for much, we just want to be tagged onto another government department. It won't cost much money. The victims are like an encyclopaedia of information once they have been through something like this and that information can be used to help the next person."

At the meeting on Tuesday victims told MPs about their experiences and how they could have been better supported. They discussed topics of tour operators, domestic and foreign police, embassies and foreign law and justice.

Mrs Hughes added: "We hope that we were listened to. It would be so good if this time next year we could look at the figures and see that they had reduced dramatically. This is a cross party issue and a cross country concern."

kate.nelson@archant.co.uk

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