In the last six months, a number of cases have been before the courts following attacks which appear to have been racially motivated.
Three of the four deaths detailed below took place in Scotland and one of these was on a takeaway worker, a profession at high risk of racially motivated attacks, identified in the IRR’s briefing paper Racial violence: the buried issue.
Just last week, the young assailants of Nachhattar Singh Bola were all given life terms for the unprovoked attack. Indian man Nachhattar Bola (26) who was visiting friends in Renfrewshire, Scotland for a few months, was attacked on 2 July 2010. He was chased and then attacked by youths as he walked down Thompson Street in Renfrew. The group kicked and beat him, knocking him unconscious, stamping on his head and body. He was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, where he remained in intensive care for five weeks until he died on 6 August 2010. His wife arrived from India in the UK too late to see her husband before he died (because of visa problems) and then did not have enough money to fly his body home. Two 16-year-olds were initially arrested for attempted murder. The charge was changed upon Nachhattar’s death to racially aggravated murder, which they were formally charged with when they appeared in private at Paisley Sheriff Court on 16 August 2010. In January 2011, three young men – Dillon Cherrie (16), Dean Logan (16) and Stewart Patterson (20) – all pleaded guilty to murder and were sentenced to life imprisonment, with Cherrie and Logan ordered to serve at least nine years and Patterson ordered to serve at least ten and a half years.
In December 2010, Mustafa Elsherkisi, 40, from Libya, was convicted of the racially aggravated murder of his neighbour Mohammed Idris Mirza in May 2010. Mohammed, a 47-year-old Pakistani man who had lived in Stenhouse Gardens North, in Edinburgh, for fifteen years, had previously argued with his neighbour over the issue of his dog fouling their common garden. Edinburgh High Court was told how Elsherkisi, who denied the charges, had shouted racist abuse during the argument (‘P*** bastard’). He had said that he had been carrying a knife for protection and that it was ‘a terrible accident’. Elsherkisi was sentenced to life, and told he must serve fifteen years in prison before the possibility of release.
Other deaths with a possible racial motivation
Through our ongoing research into racially motivated violence, two other deaths in the last year have been identified and although not specifically prosecuted as racially motivated crimes, have a racial dimension.
In December 2010, three young people were sentenced for their parts in the death of Simon San on 11 August 2010 in Edinburgh. Forty-year-old Simon San was originally from Vietnam and worked as a delivery driver for the family takeaway, Yong Hua Garden, on Lochend Road, Edinburgh. The attack took place as Simon returned from a delivery. A group of young people surrounded his car with him still inside and began to rock the vehicle. San made an emergency call while still in the car. When he managed to get out, he was forced back and punched once in the face – he fell directly backwards, hitting his head on the pavement. He died the following day from a fractured skull and internal bleeding. In September 2010, John Reid, 16, pleaded guilty to culpable homicide and was later sentenced to five years’ detention. His solicitor said Reid maintained there was never any racial element to the attack. In December, two more 16-year-olds, Michael Roberts and Keir Rodger, were sentenced to 42 months and 34 months respectively after pleading guilty to assaulting Simon. Roberts also admitted stealing Simon’s mobile phone, car keys and failing to appear in court. Simon’s family have lodged an official complaint about the police, saying they had alerted the police on a number of occasions prior to Simon’s death that he and other delivery staff were being targeted by youths. A spokesperson from the Procurator Fiscal’s Office told IRR News that there was no direct evidence of racism in the specific incident on 11 August but that Simon’s family felt that previous incidents had not been dealt with and that the family took the view that the attack was racially motivated.
In another brutal attack, in February 2010, Papa Mbaye Mody (aka Alioune Cisse), a 30-year-old asylum seeker from Senegal living in the Benwell area of Newcastle, died three days after being attacked by a group of teens. He had asked them for a cigarette. He was struck numerous times; he was stamped on, punched, kicked in the head and chest. Forensic experts found three sets of shoe imprints on his body, and he died of massive head injuries that were likened to those sustained in a car crash. As Papa Mody was lying unconscious on the ground, one of the teens returned to spit on him, kick him once more and say ‘Next time I’ll kill you’. Papa Mody sustained more than forty injuries in the attack. Three teens, aged 17, 15, and 13, were charged with murder and tried at Newcastle Crown court; they all denied the charges. The eldest, Andrew Spence, admitted taking part in the attack but denied inflicting fatal injuries – he said in court he was defending himself and that the 15-year-old had stamped on the victim’s head. There was a mention in one news report that Spence was abusive to the victim, but he denied prosecution claims that he was racist. The 15-year-old, in turn, claimed he did not touch the victim and was only watching while Spence punched, stamped on and kicked Papa Mody. He claimed he did not expect his friend to do that and that he tried to stop him. On 27 August 2010, Andrew Spence and the 13-year-old were found guilty of murder and manslaughter respectively. Spence was jailed for a minimum of eleven years. The 15-year-old was cleared of any involvement in the attack. The 13-year-old was sentenced to five years, but in January 2011 won a reduction in his sentence to three and a half years after an appeal court judge ruled it ‘manifestly excessive’.
Download a copy of IRR Briefing Paper no.6: Racial violence: the buried issue (pdf file, 300kb)
Read the IRR’s Factfile on the Racially Motivated Murders (Known or Suspected) 2000 onwards