Saturday, October 17, 2009

Guilty verdict in Qatari killing

LONDON // A man who delivered a fatal punch to a Qatari student during a racially motivated brawl at an English seaside town, was found guilty of the killing yesterday.After eight hours’ deliberation, a jury at Lewes Crown Court found George Austin, 22, guilty of the manslaughter of 16-year-old Mohammed al Majed on the seafront at Hastings in August last year.Mohammed, who was in Britain for the summer studying English, suffered brain damage when he struck his head on the pavement and died in hospital in London three days later.
Abdulla al Majed, Mohammed’s father, said in a statement after the verdict: “Mohammed Abdulla al Majed, our boy, tragically lost his life just over a year ago. We believe that the right verdict was reached today.“We, the family, thank the Emir of Qatar and the Crown Prince for their belief in our family’s search for justice. The support of the people of Qatar has been extraordinary.”Mr al Majed also thanked the Qatari ambassador in Britain, Mr Khalid Rashid al Mansouri, and his staff for all their assistance along with the British government and Sussex police.
Mohammed and a group of friends, mainly teenage Arab students, were attacked late in the evening outside a kebab shop on the Hastings seafront by a group of English youths who had been drinking heavily.Peter Henworth, 17, one of the students who was originally from Nigeria, became the focal point of abuse. He was sworn at and called “a nigger” before Paul Rockett, one of Austin’s co-defendants, threw a punch at him.

The group then chased Mr Henworth along the seafront and Mohammed, his 16-year-old cousin Abdullah Alnowais and their friend Mojeb Qatani, took shelter in the kebab shop to avoid further trouble.After a while, the trio made a run for it but encountered Austin who was returning from the unsuccessful chase of Mr Henworth.It was then that Austin, from south London, delivered the fatal blow, knocking Mohammed off his feet. Contrary to earlier reports, no other youths attacked Mohammed.
Austin, who fled the country after the incident but was arrested when he flew back into Britain last November, maintained at the four-week trial that he had acted in self-defence, thinking he was about to be attacked as the students ran towards him.

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