IN A CHILLING echo of the brutal murder of Stephen Lawrence, which took place 24 years ago next month, a young male asylum seeker has been attacked while waiting at a south-east London bus stop.
The asylum seeker, a Kurdish Iranian, is now in hospital in a serious but stable condition. He has head and facial injuries which have been assessed as not being life-threatening.
The young man and two friends were waiting at a bus stop late on Friday night when they were approached by a gang of some eight young men. The youths asked the asylum seeker where he was from – and when he admitted that he was an asylum seeker they then chased him down the road.
The asylum seeker ended up on the ground, though it is not yet whether he fell or whether he was brought down by the youths. Once down, he was repeatedly kicked by the youths (by then, possibly more than eight in number) in an attack which the police are describing as frenzied. This continued until the youths heard police sirens, at which point they ran off – in, it is thought, the direction of the Goat Pub in Broom Road.
The attack itself took place in Shrublands Avenue. The two friends who were at the bus stop suffered minor injuries.
Two things are different from the attack on Stephen Lawrence – apart, of course, from the outcome.
•First, as the asylum seeker lay on the ground, it seems that members of the public shouted at the attackers to stop and then went to help the injured young man when his attackers ran off.
•Second, the police appear to be taking the attack very seriously – describing the attack from the outset as a hate crime. Croydon’s Metropolitan Police Borough Commander, Chief Superintendant Jeff Boothe, spoke out straight away – condemning the attackers and asking for witnesses to come forward. DS Kris Blamires from Croydon CID made a similar appeal, saying “All communities stand together against hate and we would ask anyone with any information to come forward immediately.”
The victim’s name is not being released until his next of kin have been informed.
•Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to call Croydon CID during office hours on 020-3276 2234 or 101 or to phone Crimestoppers (who will keep call anonymous and confidential) on 0800-555 111.
•UPDATE: Eight in Custody