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Two convicted following assault of asylum seeker

News   •   Feb 02, 2018 05:00 GMT

[Convicted: Ben Harman and George Jeffrey]

Two people have been found guilty of their involvement in the violent and unprovoked assault of an Iranian asylum seeker.

The pair were part of a second trial which concluded at Croydon Crown Court on Thursday, 1 February.

George Jeffrey, 21 (7.09.96) of Uvedale Close, Croydon and Ben Harman, 21 (13.05.96) of Akabusi Close, Croydon were both found guilty of two counts of violent disorder following a three-week trial.

The first trial, in Autumn 2017, saw a further three individuals convicted for their part in the attack - which left the 17-year-old victim with such significant injuries that he continues to recover. In addition, a further two individuals pleaded guilty to offences.

On 9 November 2017, three men were each convicted of two counts of violent disorder following a six-week trial:

- A then 17-year-old boy from Croydon;
- George Walder, 21 (7.09.96) of Myrtle Road, Croydon;
- Liam Neylon, now 20 (7.12.97) of Ferris Avenue, Croydon.

James Neves, 23 (3.09.94), of no fixed address, previously pleaded guilty on 18 August 2017 to one count of violent disorder; and a then 17-year-old girl from Croydon pleaded guilty on 8 December 2017 to one count of affray.

All seven defendants will be sentenced at the same court on Friday, 2 March.

Detective Superintendent Jane Corrigan, from Croydon Borough, said: “This was a truly disgraceful and brutal assault on a young man who was simply out enjoying his night. The victim’s friends who witnessed the incident said they thought the suspects were going to kill their friend. Having seriously assaulted him, they were compelled to go back and attack him further. 

“The injuries he suffered were so significant that he is now experiencing long-lasting trauma as a result. I hope some solace can be taken in the fact that my officers have worked diligently in bringing the offenders to justice; and today’s result is a testament to their hard work and determination to hold those responsible to account.”

Police were called at around 23.40hrs on 31 March 2017 to reports of a group of youths attacking a male on Shrublands Avenue in Croydon. 

Officers attended along with the London Ambulance Service and discovered the victim suffering from serious injuries. 

The court heard how the victim and his two friends were walking along Shrublands Avenue to a nearby bus stop, with the intention of travelling into Croydon town centre for a night out. Passing by a pub, a group of individuals standing outside asked them where they were from. After telling the group they were from Iran and Iraq, they continued on.

But George Walder followed them, and unexpectedly punched the victim in the face. A white Vauxhall Corsa then pulled up and the driver - Ben Harman - and passenger - George Jeffrey - both got out and ran at the three victims. Walder chased them across the roundabout to a nearby bus stop where the victim was repeatedly kicked and punched. His two friends ran off down Bridle Road and into a garden. They then returned and began to throw stones at the suspects in an effort to stop them. They were chased by members of the group, but were luckily able to escape. 

As the incident died down, the victim found the opportunity to get up and run away. But he was chased along Shrublands Avenue, caught, and thrown to the ground where the attack continued. 

Eventually the assault on the victim came to an end, and he was left lying prone in the street. When officers arrived at the scene, all the suspects had fled. 

The victim was taken to Kings College Hospital with severe injuries, including a fractured spine, fractured eye socket and a bleed to the brain. So serious were his injuries that doctors initially believed he may die. He was put into an induced coma and remained in hospital for a number of days.

CCTV footage of the incident was vital in the investigation, enabling officers to identify the suspects. Various cameras recorded the suspects at different points; and following painstaking efforts, officers were able to piece together the events of that night.

In total 17 individuals were arrested in connection with the investigation, of which 14 were subsequently charged.

The case of a 16-year-old who was accused of violent disorder was discontinued prior to trial.

The following individuals were acquitted:

Trial 1: Daryl Davis, 21, of Laurel Crescent, Croydon; Danyelle Davis, 24, of Laurel Crescent, Croydon; and, Kyran Evans, 24, of Shrublands Avenue, Croydon.

Trial 2: Barry Potts, 21, of Fir Tree Gardens, Croydon; Jack Walder, 24, of Myrtle Road, Croydon; and, Ellie Leite, 19, of Shrublands Avenue, Croydon.
A charge of theft against Walder resulted in a hung jury.