Croydon asylum seeker attack: 'Up to 20 people' watched as teenager brutally beaten up

Attackers labelled 'scum' by local MP

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The Independent Online

Up to 20 people looked on as a gang brutally attacked an asylum seeker at a bus stop in south London, residents in the area have said.

Eight people were being questioned on suspicion of the attempted murder of the Kurdish Iranian teenager, who suffered serious head injuries after being repeatedly kicked and punched.

The crime has drawn widespread condemnation, with Tory minister Gavin Barwell describing the attackers as “scum”.

One resident of Shrublands Avenue, where the attack took place, said: “There were more than eight people, there was a massive group coming up from The Goat pub.

“You couldn't see who was hitting who.

“There was one person, the one who ended up in hospital, he was getting absolutely beaten up – kicked, mostly in the facial area. He was getting kicked and punched by everyone.

“There was a group of roughly 10 people that was kicking and punching him, and the rest, another 10 or 20, were all just around watching.

“Then when they heard sirens they started to go. People that were there, witnesses, because they couldn't do anything against a group of 30 people, they had to wait until they moved off and that's when they managed to help him.

“That's eventually when the ambulance and police (arrived), and that was it.”

The 17-year-old was with two friends at the bus stop when the attack happened at around 11.40pm on Friday. Police said they believed the assailants asked him where he was from before the attack began.

He was taken to a south London hospital, where he remains. While his two friends suffered minor injuries in the attack, the teenager reportedly sustained a fractured skull and a blood clot on his brain. His condition was described as serious but stable, and was not believed to be life-threatening.

Mr Barwell, Croydon Central's MP, said: “It's an appalling crime and I hope the people responsible are caught quickly and receive the full force of British justice.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan also condemned the attack, saying hate crime “has no place in London, Britain or anywhere else”, while the Refugee Council said it was “disgusted” by the incident.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also denounced the assault, saying: “Absolutely shocked at attack on young Kurdish asylum seeker, who came here searching for safety. I fervently hope he makes a full recovery.”

Scotland Yard said a 23-year-old man was arrested in Croydon on Sunday on suspicion of attempted murder, while a 26-year-old man and 17-year-old girl were detained on suspicion of attempted murder and violent disorder.

Five other people are still being questioned by detectives while a sixth, a woman aged 20, was released without charge.

The group – three men aged 20, one aged 24 and a 24-year-old woman – are also being held on suspicion of attempted murder and violent disorder.

Appealing for help identifying three people in relation to the attack, Detective Inspector Gary Castle, from Croydon CID, said: “Whilst arrests have been made, we now know that a large number of people, approximately 20, were involved in the attack on the victim.

“A number of them approached the victim as he waited at a bus stop with two friends outside the Goat Public House in Shrublands.

“It is understood that the suspects asked the victim where he was from and when they established that he was an asylum seeker they chased him and launched a brutal attack. He sustained serious head and facial injuries as a result of this attack, which included repeated blows to the head by a large group of attackers.

“A number of people came to the aid of the victim as he lay unconscious and injured following the assault. Two friends of the victim managed to escape the attackers and suffered only minor injuries [...] All communities stand together against hate. No one should be subjected to violent behaviour, especially those who have come to London to seek refuge and a place of safety.”

Anyone with information about the attack should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Additional reporting by Press Association