Latvian father of four critically ill after racist stabbing by gang of 20 teenagers - Crime - UK - The Independent

Latvian father of four critically ill after racist stabbing by gang of 20 teenagers

A Latvian father who had moved to Britain to earn money for his four young children is critically ill after a racist knife attack.

A Latvian father who had moved to Britain to earn money for his four young children is critically ill after a racist knife attack.

Sergejs Pacejs, 38, is on a life-support machine in Manchester because two weeks ago he was attacked by a gang of up to 20 teenagers and stabbed in the head with a screwdriver. Police believe he was targeted because he was overheard speaking Russian. Latvia's Foreign Minister has told the British Embassy of his country's revulsion at the attack.

Mr Pacejs, a former chef in the Latvian army, had been in Greater Manchester for just two weeks, seeking a steady income that would help him provide for three sons and a daughter in Latvia.

Latvia's indignation over the attack has been compounded because a journalist from the Brussels bureau of the country's respected news agency, Diena, says that she was subjected to verbal abuse from two young girls at the scene of the stabbing, in Pendleton, Salford.

The Latvian Foreign Minister, Artis Pabriks, said: "The incident is shocking. The European Union should draw up a list of cities and countries where [such] things have happened so they can be avoided by people travelling within the EU to work." He indicated that he had lodged his protests with the ambassador, Andrew Tesoriere.

Mr Pacejs' mother arrived in the UK yesterday to be near her critically ill son in North Manchester Hospital, and to issue her own plea for help in the pursuit of the attackers. Speaking through an interpreter she said: "There are fights everywhere but for someone to do something like this; they cannot be human."

Mr Pacejs, who left school at the age of 17, joined the army, married and had four children. But his marriage failed and he was left to provide for the children; boys, aged nine, 13 and 14 and a girl aged 16.

He left the army to work as a carpenter in a sawmill but followed the route of many of his countrymen in 1999, when he travelled to the UK and found casual seasonal work at a vegetable factory in Boston, Lincolnshire. After he returned to Latvia, he found work hard to come by: employment is available in Riga but not in small towns, and that includes Rezekne, in the south-east of the country, where his family lives.

He re-entered the UK on 17 November and, with his new partner, Galina Tepcova, had established a small network of friends from his country. Ms Tepcova, 21, works in a shop in the area.

On the night of 3 December, he had left a friend's house at 11.15pm with Ms Tepcova and another friend when the youths attacked them. All three suffered stab wounds. Detectives believe that a hackney cab driver may have witnessed the attack as he slowed to manouevre around another car.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed the attack was being treated as racially motivated.

In an unlinked attack 25 hours later, a 26-year-old Czech man in Salford's Lower Broughton district was beaten unconscious.

Latvia's conviction that Greater Manchester may be the source of racist sentiment was strengthened by the experience of a reporter, Sanita Jemberg, who said two girls, aged 10 or 12, racially abused her.

"I don't think it was because of the way I am dressed and I don't look different from other people on the street so it must have been because of my accent," she said. "The attack on this man has caused a great deal of anger in my country."

Salford's council leader John Merry said: "I'm sorry the Foreign Minister chose to say what he said, but I can understand his reaction if it came in the heat of the moment."

Hazel Blears, the Labour MP for Salford and a Home Office minister, has also rejected Mr Pabriks' suggestion that a "blacklist" should be created but she described the recent attacks as "completely unacceptable".

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week