THE father of a man cleared of an attack on Croydon footballer Rob Hughes says his family are relieved their four-year ordeal is over.
Mike Herdman, 57, says son Ben is looking to rebuild his life following his acquittal in Greece last month.
Ben, 23, a trainee chartered accountant, was charged with causing grievous bodily harm, along with five friends, after Rob was kicked, stamped on and bottled in a horrific attack in Malia, on the island of Crete, in June 2008.
Four of the friends – Curtis Taylor, Daniel Bell and Sean Branton, all from Horley, and Joseph Bruckland, from Hookwood – were convicted and given four-year jail terms, which have been suspended pending an appeal.
But Ben, from Crawley, was acquitted after the court in Heraklion heard he walked away from the fight and played no part in it.
Mr Herdman said: "We are extremely relieved that Ben has finally been able to clear his name after four years.
"He should never have gone to trial as a defendant, he should have gone as a witness.
"Ben was further down the street when an argument escalated into a fight, but he didn't want to become involved and carried on walking.
"He's been caught up in this, as has his friend George Hollands (also acquitted), who was in the hotel asleep."
Mr Herdman added that her son is now doing well, saying: "Ben is a trainee chartered accountant. He managed to complete his degree in business studies despite this hanging over him. The problem is the stigma attached. That's been difficult for all of us."
Mr Herdman stressed that Rob and his family are in their thoughts.
Former Croydon Athletic and Sutton United player Rob was aged 27 at the time of the attack in Greece.
He was on the verge of signing from Bromley FC and opening up his own soccer school for children.
Meanwhile, Rob's mum Maggie says she will continue to campaign for victims' rights.
She said: "What we're trying to do is make our Government in the UK really look at how victims are treated."
And referring to Rob, now aged 32, she added: "We need to now concentrate on Robert a lot more. We need, especially, friends of Robert to come back into his life and spare a few moments to support him now. That's part of his rehabilitation – phone him, contact him."