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Man jailed for manslaughter 17 years after attacking boss

|News, Violent crime

A man has been jailed more than 17 years after attacking his boss and causing a catastrophic brain injury which eventually resulted in his death.

In partnership with national and international agencies, the Crown Prosecution Service successfully pursued manslaughter charges against Arjan Balla following an assault on businessman Anastassios Delis in 2006.

Balla, now 41, chased down and attacked Mr Delis at a development site in Queensway, Southampton, in November 2006 days after being dismissed from his job as a steel erector.

Mr Delis, who moments before the assault stated his fear that Balla was “going to kill [him]”, struck his head on the concrete floor so severely that he never regained consciousness and was left in a permanent vegetative state until his death in 2017 aged 68.

Balla pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm and was originally sentenced in 2007 to three years’ imprisonment, of which he served one year before being deported to his native Albania.

However, in rare circumstances, the Crown Prosecution Service successfully authorised charges of manslaughter against Balla in December 2019 after a pathologist ruled Mr Delis’ death two years prior was a direct consequence of the head injury caused by Balla.

The difficulty faced by the prosecution was that during Balla’s initial stay in the UK he was living under a false identity in order to obtain employment. Under the name Tahir Karaj, Balla hid his true identity from UK authorities throughout the initial criminal investigation, his imprisonment and ultimate deportation.

This meant that in 2019, when consent was granted for the CPS’ Wessex Complex Casework Unit to charge ‘Karaj’, inquiries with the Albanian authorities through Interpol to locate him were initially unsuccessful.

However on 23 January 2024, following enquiries by Hampshire Police, National Crime Agency, Interpol and the Albanian authorities, intelligence confirmed that ‘Karaj’ was in fact Arjan Balla.

Enquiries also established Balla was booked to return to the UK on a flight to Stanstead Airport just three days later.

When the plane from Albania landed on 26 January, Balla was arrested – with his fingerprints and DNA matching that of the man known as Tahir Karaj previously convicted of the GBH of Mr Delis.

He was then formally charged with the manslaughter of Mr Delis and brought back to court more than 17 years after the attack, where he pleaded guilty before a trial could take place.

Today, at Southampton Crown Court, Balla was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment.

Anthony Johns, Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS Wessex, said: “This was an incredibly tragic case, spanning nearly two decades and involving organisations across the criminal justice system and our international partners in Europe.

“While Mr Delis remained alive for 11 years after the attack he did not regain consciousness, robbing him and his loved ones of a future together.

“Once it became clear that Mr Delis died as a direct result of Balla’s actions, we were determined to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law and demonstrate that neither time nor evasion will prevent justice being served.

“The strength of our case meant that Balla had no alternative but to plead guilty, sparing the family of Mr Delis the process of a criminal trial. They are undoubtedly the living victims of what Balla did that day in 2006, and I hope today’s sentence can help them move forward with their lives.”

Notes to editors

  • Arjan Balla (DOB: 15/08/1982) pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter on 16 May 2024 at Southampton Crown Court. 
  • He was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment at the same court on 10 June 2024. 
  • Anthony Johns is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS Wessex.

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