The 25 October inquest verdict of unlawful killing of Jay Abatan, killed in an unprovoked attack in January 1999, raises the possibility of new charges.
Jay Abatan was attacked after a night out with his brother and a friend in Brighton. He was punched twice and fell to the ground hitting his head and died five days later. The incident resulted in two men, Graham Curtis and Peter Bell, facing trial for affray and actual bodily harm to Jay’s brother, Michael, on which they were cleared. The jury was not told that Jay had died as a result of injuries sustained during the same attack because the judge thought it might influence the verdict. And no-one was ever charged in relation to the attck on Jay.
After a sustained campaign by Jay’s wife and brothers and sisters, to prove that the attack had been racial, Sussex police finally decided to treat the attack as a racially motivated one.
The three-week inquest heard medical evidence confirming that Jay had been hit twice, something the family had always believed but that police had denied. One man, who was with the two men accused of attacking Michael, told the inquest that he had heard Graham Curtis (who took his own life in 2003) boasting about punching ‘someone so hard he went down like a sack of potatoes’.
Sussex police have promised to examine evidence from the inquest to see if new lines of inquiry have emerged. However Michael Abatan told IRR News that the family had no confidence in Sussex police and would be asking that another force investigate. He added: ‘As a family we feel vindicated in our view that an inquest was necessary and would bring new information out. We are glad that we fought long and hard for one when all those around were fighting for us not to have one. But added to this is the distress the inquest has bought back to those that loved Jay, particularly his children. We feel we now have to question everything the police told us for eleven years and devastated that we now feel we cannot trust those who are paid to protect us. This has fundamentally shaken our belief in the world but has made us believe more strongly than ever that we have to get to the truth of what happened to Jay and why the police in our view tried so hard to stop us finding out. When else have they acted like this? Are the people of the UK getting the service and protection they deserve?’
Read an IRR News story: ‘Justice for Jay Abatan – ‘an uphill struggle”
Read an IRR News story: ‘Death case throws up police failings’
Read an IRR News story: ‘The Abatans need funds for inquest’