Two British woman have told how they were strip-searched and locked in a blood-stained police cell on Corfu after hiding a Greek man’s clothes on the beach as a prank.
Shona Cox and Vicki Albone, both from Saffron Walden, Essex, had saved for months to pay for their £2,000 package holiday but it was ruined when the “harmless prank” went wrong.
The 20-year-olds had met a group of men at the beach on Saturday, August 24 and after an afternoon together they hid the clothes of one of them a few sunbeds down while he went swimming.
Ms Cox and Ms Albone say they were later locked up without food for 24 hours and hit with £1,600 of legal bills after being accused of taking clothes and a £400 Rolex.
Airport worker Ms Cox, said: “It was the most terrifying and traumatic experience of our lives. From start to finish, we were both treated so badly and I’ve never seen anything like it.
“No one explained anything to us but we were summoned into a room and strip searched.
“The cells were absolutely gruesome. There was graffiti on the walls and there was urine all over the floor.
“There was writing on the walls smeared in blood. The mattresses were rotten and there was liquid spewing out the side of one.
“I was forced to sleep on the bare mattress and was not given a sheet, pillow, a blanket or anything. Smoking was also allowed in the cells so it stunk of stale cigarettes.”
Earlier on Saturday Ms Cox and her assistant teacher friend had been on Issos Beach where they had met a group of Greek men.
She added: “As the night went on I dared one of them, named Christopher, to run into the sea in just his boxers as we thought it would be funny. As he did, his two friends started laughing and got their phones out to record him.
“While he was in the sea, we grabbed his clothes from a sun lounger and ran off a bit further up the beach and put his clothes about 10 sun loungers along. We thought it was a harmless joke and went back to the hotel.”
“The police said that if we didn’t hand over the watch, they would have to arrest me.
“Even after numerous times explaining to them that we didn’t take the clothes or the watch they still asked us to give it back and eventually arrested me.”
They were thrown into the back of a police vehicle and taken to a station and made to give a written statement.
Greek police demanded they find a lawyer despite it being Saturday evening.
After a three hour search for an English speaking lawyer, statements were written, they were strip searched and locked in a cell, they said.
Their phones were confiscated and were returned to them for 15 minutes the following day when they contacted their families and captured footage of the cell.
Ms Cox claimed that at one point she threw up and instead of helping her, a security guard “threw boiled sweets” at her.
They were denied food and fresh water until 8pm on Sunday, having not eaten since lunch time before their arrest the previous day.
“We were given one meal the whole time we were locked up and weren’t even given fresh water. The water was warm and dirty. My basic human rights were just taken away and no one cared.
“I’d like to think I’m quite a strong person but I have never cried so much or been so scared in my life.”
They were taken out of the cell for a brief spell as police took them back to the hotel and searched the room from top to bottom, before locking them up again.
After being taken to court the following day, her hearing was delayed as the witnesses had flown back to Athens and needed to return.
Ms Cox continued: “We were taken to court on Monday but it was delayed until Wednesday while the boys could return from Athens to testify.
“We were allowed to sleep in the hotel for the following days but we were terrified.
“My dream holiday and my first trip abroad had been ruined and all I could think of is ‘am I going to be sent to jail here for something I did not do?'”
Ms Cox did not attend court on Wednesday and her lawyer dealt with the case in her absence.
She added: “We spent the whole of Wednesday in fear, waiting for that call and we did not hear anything until 5pm that afternoon to say that we were found not guilty.
“We were allowed to go home first thing the next day.
“This is a warning to everyone before they go to Greece, it may be a nice destination to go to but if a time comes that you’re in trouble and you actually need help, this is how they treat you.”
The foreign office was contacted for comment.
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