Singapore — A 15-year-old teen who had been part of a group that assaulted a Singaporean student has been found guilty of committing an “unprovoked and racially-motivated” act by a court in London.
The attack on Mr Jonathan Mok, 23, occurred in Oxford Street on Feb 24, 2020. It left him bruised and bloodied. He later required facial surgery.
Magistrates at the Highbury Corner Youth Court on Monday (Jan 4) found the teen guilty of racially-aggravated grievous bodily harm. He has not been named due to his young age.
The police in London had investigated the attack as a racially- motivated assault.
The teen had admitted that he had wounded Mr Mok but denied at his trial last month that the attack had been motivated by race. He said that he was not a racist and that he did not mention the word “coronavirus”.
Mr Mok had claimed that the boy and his friends had said “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country” and had commented on the Singaporean student’s ethnicity. The teen denied this.
However, witnesses some metres away from where the assault occurred heard the words “disease” or “coronavirus”, the court heard.
In August last year, the teen had pleaded guilty to wounding or causing grievous bodily harm without intent.
Chairman of the Bench Lesley Ward told the teen: “Given the number of witnesses and your proximity to the incident, we feel it’s not plausible that you missed the racist term being used and it’s therefore difficult to believe your version of events.”
This now means that the assault on Mr Mok is considered a hate crime, which will have bearing on the teen’s sentencing later this month.
The law student wrote about the assault in a Facebook post
That night, Mr Mok passed by some male teenagers in a group. One of them addressed him but all he could understand was the word “coronavirus”. He turned to look that the person who spoke, which provoked him to shout: “Don’t you dare look at me.”
Within seconds, he and others from his group, including a young female, confronted Mr Mok.
He said: “I was shocked and angry because he directed a racist remark at me and had the audacity to shout at me like I had wronged him. All of a sudden, the first punch was swung at my face and took me by surprise. When I was still shocked by the first hit, the guy delivered the second sucker punch.”
Passers-by tried to step in. And while Mr Mok attempted to explain he had done nothing, another person from the group tried to kick him.
Mr Mok tried to defend himself but was limited from doing so as he had a broken finger.
Then the person who tried to kick him punched him in the face, bloodying his nose.
The group left before the police came.
In the hospital, Mr Mok was told that he “had suffered a few fractures in my face and might need to undergo reconstructive surgery to fix some of the bones”.
In his Facebook post, which went on to be shared more than 38,000 times, he said: “Racism is not stupidity — racism is hate. Racists constantly find excuses to expound their hatred — and in this current backdrop of the coronavirus, they’ve found yet another excuse. From refusing service to a Chinese-looking person to racially-motivated hate crimes, every single one of these acts are based on racism.
“People dismiss racism with statements such as ‘it’s not all of us — only a minority are racists and this does not reflect on a city/country’. While factually true, not only it does not change the fact that this is an ugly problem that has plagued humanity for a very long time, but also it belittles this problem we have. Racism has changed its form and shape through the years and it is once again rearing its ugly head in light of the Covid-19 crisis.” /TISG