Court cuts sentence on boy who stabbed racist

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A BLACK teenager convicted of wounding a white racist after being subjected to an 'appalling' campaign of violence and abuse, had his sentence cut by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

The court agreed to reduce the six-month custodial sentence by a third after hearing the 16-year-old had been targeted in south-east London by a racist group called Nazi Turnout. He had been assaulted and chased out of his school and his family had been forced to move from the area.

The judges said it was 'with the greatest regret' that they had decided not to release the teenager immediately.

In recent years, 11 members of the Nazi gang, which is said to be linked to the British National Party, had been found guilty of a series of crimes, including murder, wounding, threatening behaviour and affray, the court was told. Yet only the murderer had been imprisoned. The length of the sentence passed on the 16-year-old at Inner London Crown Court last July had been contrasted locally with treatment of the gang, heightening racial tensions on the estate in Bexley where he lived, the court heard.

Anthony Jennings, counsel for the teenager, said that he had been found guilty of maliciously wounding another youth in a fight at a railway station last February. The court heard that the victim had been stabbed seven times with a kitchen knife and pushed through a broken window.

But Mr Jennnings said the sentence was unduly harsh given the provocation that led to the crime. The victim had been a member of Nazi Turnout, which had been 'engaged in a systematic campaign of racial violence and harassment'. The gang had also been responsible for graffiti on the estate, supporting the Ku Klux Klan and bragging about the murders of black people.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice Morland, sitting with Lord Justice McCowan and Mr Justice Leonard, said the 16-year-old's offence had been so serious that a non- custodial sentence would have been 'wholly unjustified'.

However, he said the appellant - a teenager of good character with no previous convictions - had been subjected to 'prolonged and intolerable harassment'.

'On many occasions, the appellant had to climb over the school fence in order to avoid his tormentors. The appellant was himself the victim of some form of assault and worse was to follow when a close friend of the appellant's was, in February 1991, stabbed to death by a member of Nazi Turnout.

'The result of the racial abuse was so bad that the appellant's family had to move (house).'