In the last few weeks a number of important cases involving racially-motivated violence have been before the courts.
Dr Sarandev Bhambra
On 25 June, in a few hours, Zack Davies was found guilty by a jury of the attempted murder of 24-year-old dentist Dr Sarandev Bhambra in Mold in Wales in January 2015. Davies had admitted GBH but denied attempted murder. Sentencing was adjourned until September pending psychiatric reports.
The court was told that on 14 January, 26-year-old Davies had gone to Mold to attack his mother’s boyfriend who worked at the post office. However he had been unable to find him and had instead targeted Bhambra because ‘he looked vaguely foreign’. He also told police that he had heard voices in his head saying ‘attack, attack, this is an invader, attack him’ and also stated that ‘I did it for Lee Rigby’.
Bhambra, who has been left with life-changing injuries, told the court a ‘grinning’ Davies came at him shouting ‘white, white, white’ and ‘white power’ and began attacking him, saying: ’He would have hacked me to bits, I have no doubt in my mind that he was trying to kill me. I was singled out, I was attacked on the basis of my colour at the end of the day.’ Bhambra suffered two wounds to the head, one to his lower back and ankle. He also required a seven-hour operation to save his left hand which was almost severed. He is still undergoing physiotherapy to recover lost function.
The attack was only stopped after an ex-soldier intervened and confronted Davies as he chased Bhambra around the Tesco. The ex-soldier, Peter Fuller told the court, he had stepped between Davies and Bhambra and said ‘”Stop, this is madness, I am ex-forces” … The fact I said I was an ex-soldier, that I stood in his way, took the wind out of his sails.’
After police searched Davies’ home they found racist and neo-Nazi materials including a copy of Mein Kampf, swastika badges, Combat 18 stickers. He also told police he was a member of a small, far-right organisation, National Action.
The family of Dr Bhambra pulled no punches in their statement outside the court following Davies’ conviction for attempted murder. ‘Sarandev was singled out because of the colour of his skin. We are in no doubt that had the racial disposition of this case been reversed this would be reported as an act of terror with a wider media coverage. We as a family have listened intently to the evidence … and are in no doubt given the racial and political motivation that this should be rightly defined as an act of terrorism. By his own admission Zack Davies had extreme neo-Nazi views and is a member of a white supremacist organisation.’
The attack was prosecuted as racially motivated it remains to be seen if Davies is sentenced accordingly.
Henry Huggins: dies two years after racist attack
On 10 June 2015, 48-year-old Henry Huggins died after spending nearly two years in a persistent vegetative state after a racist attack on 8 August 2013. His attacker, Stuart Docherty, 40, who was jailed in November 2014 for seventeen years for GBH with intent and theft, could now face a murder charge.
Huggins was attacked outside his Luton home after an ongoing dispute over his dog with his neighbour James Early. Henry had been threatened with violence and racially abused in the weeks before the attack.
Docherty, a friend of Early decided to ’sort’ Huggins out. Early first punched Huggins three times, which resulted him falling to the ground unconscious. Docherty then stamped, twice, on his head. Docherty went on to steal Huggins’ watch and ring as he pretended to check the injured man’s pulse. Early, 40, was cleared of GBH with intent but convicted of ABH and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
Surjit Singh Chhokar
On 30 June it was announced that Ronnie Coulter is to face trial at Glasgow’s High Court on 1 February 2016, charged with the murder of 32-year-old Surjit Singh Chhokar who was stabbed to death outside his home in Overtown, North Lanarkshire in 1998.
The case was outlined by prosecutors who claim that Coulter, acted along with two others, Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery, and that Chhokar was punched and prevented from defending himself. Chhokar is then said to have been hit with a wooden baton before Coulter repeatedly stabbed him. It is further alleged that Coulter previously envinced ‘malice and ill-will’ towards Chhokar and he is also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by getting another person to hide clothes worn during the alleged murder and a case of knives, of forging of Chhokar’s signature to cash a £100 cheque and attempting to pervert the course of justice with attempts to avoid ‘detection, arrest, prosecution and conviction’.