Judge asks for black activists' investigation

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The Independent Online
AN OLD BAILEY judge yesterday asked the Attorney General to investigate black activists who tried to turn the killing of a 16-year-old Asian schoolboy into a "racial cause celebre".

Judge Graham Boal QC hit out at race campaigners who tried to liken the killing of Manesh Patel to the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Manesh, of Uppingham Avenue, Kenton, Middlesex, died after being attacked by two white teenagers in a west London street in July last year, but the judge said it was a case of "bullying" with no racial motive - as did the victim's father.

The judge was told activists bombarded Manesh's parents with telephone calls during and after the trial to persuade them to criticise the police and back up their claim that the killing was racially motivated. He said: "It is extremely regrettable that anyone would think to approach Mr and Mrs Patel during the course of the trial.

He ordered that a transcript of his remarks and case papers be sent to the Attorney General, John Morris QC.

Brian Altman, prosecuting, said Mr Patel was approached by Harrow Commission for Racial Equality to hold up a banner outside court. He refused. "Mr Patel also received a number of calls from unknown sources trying to persuade him that this was another Stephen Lawrence-type case and the police should be condemned."

He handed the judge a press release from an organisation called the 1990 Trust, based at South Bank Techno Park in Southwark, south London, which stated: "Another bus stop, another murder, another miscarriage of Justice".

Counsel said: "Mr Patel ...continues to refuse, to support any such misguided campaign. He accepts the offence was not motivated by racial prejudice."

Two youths from the Harrow area, aged 16 and 17, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were originally charged with murdering Manesh, but, after a trial at the Old Bailey in June this year the 16-year-old was found guilty of manslaughter. The other defendant was convicted of causing actual bodily.

The 16-year-old was today sentenced to three and a half years detention and the older boy, was given 80 hours community service. They had boarded a bus in Rayners Lane, west London and sat behind Patel and a friend. They followed him off the bus and attacked him in Hinkler Road, Harrow.

Mr Natubhai Patel said outside court: "We have lost a brilliant, gentle, much-loved son."