A FAMILY fear they will never get justice after their relative died following a savage attack.
The family of Jeffrey Lewis are devastated that no-one has ever been punished for the brutal assault at Gibraltar port that eventually led to his death.
It comes as three men walked free from court after being found not guilty of causing his death.
An inquest at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court ruled that Mr Lewis was unlawfully killed.
Julie Sheppard, 57, from Bedhampton, who is the wife of Mr Lewis’ cousin Michael Sheppard, said: ‘We are all very angry.
‘It doesn’t seem right – we have lost him and no-one is paying for it.’
The inquest heard Mr Lewis died in October 2011, three years after suffering catastrophic brain damage when he was hit round the head during a raid on a shipping container.
Mr Lewis, originally from Rowlands Castle, had moved to Gibraltar to start a new life as a security guard.
But in November 2008 that came to an end when he stumbled upon a gang of men stealing tobacco from a container ship.
He was struck with a heavy object and fell into a deep coma and never regained consciousness.
Despite extensive surgery to ease swelling on his brain he remained in a semi-vegetative state until his death.
He was moved to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, by air ambulance in 2009 and from there to Latham Lodge nursing home in Waterlooville where he eventually died, aged 59, of pneumonia.
Assistant deputy coroner Karen Harrold heard that three men had been arrested and tried in Gibraltar over Mr Lewis’s death.
But murder charges could not be brought because of the ‘year and a day law’. The law means suspects can only be tried for murder if the victim dies within a year and a day of the original attack. The law has been dropped in England.
Detective Sergeant Mark Hall, from Hampshire Constabulary, was asked to help the Home Office on the case.
He said: ‘As a result of Mr Lewis’s death the defendants were subsequently indicted for his murder.
‘The trial has now been completed. The result was they (police) lost the argument on the murder charge on the first day.
‘I have been told by Detective Inspector Wayne Tunbridge, from Royal Gibraltar Police, the argument was lost on the year and a day law.
‘They carried on with the charge of grievous bodily harm with intent, robbery and theft.’
The inquest heard the jury came back with a majority verdict on the GBH charge and the judge asked them to come back with a unanimous decision.
They came back with a unanimous not guilty verdict.
Having reviewed the evidence Mrs Harrold concluded Mr Lewis was unlawfully killed as a result of the original 2008 assault.
She added: ‘In my view the assault was so severe it left him in a semi-vegetative state for the rest of his life.
‘There is a clear link between the assault and the eventual death.’
After the inquest, Mrs Sheppard told The News: ‘Justice has definitely not been done.’
Detectives have said they will keep in touch with the family, but are not planning to investigate further unless fresh evidence comes to light.