A 16-year-old who carried out a “racially motivated” attack on a Singaporean law student has been handed a youth rehabilitation order.
Jonathan Mok, 24, was left bloodied and bruised and required surgery on his face after he was assaulted by the teenager and his group of friends on Oxford Street on February 24 last year.
Witnesses to the attack standing a few metres away heard the words “disease” and “coronavirus” used, while Mok said the defendant told him: “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.”
The teenager, who cannot be named due to his age, was found guilty of racially aggravated grievous bodily harm (GBH) at Highbury Corner Youth Court earlier this month.
He had previously admitted wounding or inflicting GBH but denied it was racially motivated, telling his trial he had not mentioned coronavirus and was not a racist.
At a hearing on Wednesday, chair of the bench Mervyn Mandell sentenced the teenager to an 18-month youth rehabilitation order, telling him: “This was an unprovoked attack for no reason other than his appearance.”
The youth was also ordered to wear an electronic tag, face a curfew order between 8pm and 7am for 10 weeks and pay £600 compensation to the victim.
Simon Maughan, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Mok had received a “complicated fracture” to his nose in the attack, requiring surgery and stitches.
A victim statement read to the court by Mr Maughan on behalf of the law student said: “The lack of remorse shown by the accused, by refusing to identify the other individual who initiated the assault as well as the assaulters, shows no sign of regret nor hesitation in committing this crime randomly.
“I’m afraid these individuals, especially those not identified, might be emboldened to commit similar offences in the future.
“I believe they are a threat, particularly to those who look different from them, in the contextual backdrop of the worldwide pandemic.”
At the boy’s trial, the court was told that several people had heard the word “disease” or “coronavirus” from a few metres away.
Chair of the bench Lesley Ward said the evidence showed the teenager’s version of events was “not plausible” and could not be believed.
She told him: “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.”
Ward said the attack had been “unprovoked and racially motivated”.
The court had previously heard that, after the friend of the 15-year-old made a remark about coronavirus towards Mok, the student turned around.
The defendant’s friend then said “don’t you look at me” before punching Mok in the face without warning, the court head.
Mok, who had been studying in London for two years at the time of the attack, told the trial his nose “exploded” following the first punch.
The court heard that the 15-year-old boy then joined in the attack, punching and kicking Mok and making a “racist” comment.
Mok said the teenage defendant told him: “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.”
Asked what he thought the comment meant, Mok told the trial: “My interpretation was he believed that I was the one who brought the coronavirus to this country, or people who look like me.
“I was angry [...] it was quite shocking because I never expected to face this sort of incident. I have never heard this kind of comment the whole time while studying in London.”
The teenager had previously denied kicking Mok or hearing any mention of coronavirus in his group of friends.
He had told the court that “no one said anything towards Mr Mok about his ethnicity”.
He had also said he believed coronavirus was “fake” at the time of the incident.
A 16-year-old boy who was also arrested over the incident was previously released with no further action.
The teenager, who handed himself in to police following an appeal, previously denied kicking Mok or hearing any mention of coronavirus in his group of friends.
Gerard Pitt, defending, said the youth has “always maintained that he did not say anything about coronavirus” and that during the trial Mok said he could not be certain that it was the defendant who had mentioned it.
No-one else has been charged in connection with the attack, while another 16-year-old boy also arrested over the incident was previously released with no further action.