Rastafarian is shot after testifying against racist attackers

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A Rastafarian who testified against a group of racists who were convicted of assaulting him has been shot in what police say was an act of revenge.

A Rastafarian who testified against a group of racists who were convicted of assaulting him has been shot in what police say was an act of revenge.

Four men were jailed for a total of 20 years last Wednesday for the frenzied attack on Derek Senior, 50, in which they tore out a dreadlock as a souvenir. The second attack took place five days later, on Monday night, as he sat in his car outside his home in Basford, Nottingham.

The gunman escaped on a motorcycle ridden by an accomplice. Mr Senior was taken to hospital with bullet wounds to the chest, abdomen and both legs and last night was in a serious but stable condition.

Police said yesterday that Mr Senior was a victim of a pernicious form of urban terrorism calculated to deter victims from coming forward to testify in the courts. The Nottinghamshire Assistant Chief Constable, Peter Ditchett, said there was a sense of outrage within his force at the shooting of " ... a perfectly innocent man going about his business, gunned down on his driveway. He gave evidence at a court of law, did his public duty, then he was shot and we believe the incidents are linked."

"If the person out there responsible hears this: I am going to hunt you down. We are going to find you, we are going to convict you and you can ponder your future in front of prison bars."

Mr Senior is a youth worker who works with local school children. The mother of a local child with Asperger's syndrome described how he had provided classroom support for her son at the nearby Haywood comprehensive.

"He is very good with kids who have disabilities," said the mother, 45, who declined to be named. "He seems to have a lot of patience and understanding." Her son, aged nine, said Mr Senior's sense of humour made him popular.

Mr Senior is believed to be the father of three grown-up children, and children aged 17, five and three from another relationship.

The original racist attack on Mr Senior happened as he and his former work colleague Ester Robinson chatted and played pool at the Lord Nelson pub last September. Five drunken men pushed past them and one kicked Ms Robinson. As Mr Senior stepped in to demand an apology, he was dragged to the corner of the room, out of sight of the CCTV cameras.

According to the CCTV evidence in court, the men laughed and danced, brandishing the dreadlock. His injuries, which required hospital treatment, included a fractured eye socket.

Mr Senior said: "It was the greatest insult I could suffer. I am a Rastafarian. It encompasses my life and religion. I have been more deeply affected than I can possibly imagine. The physical scars and injuries have healed, but the mental scars are never likely to heal."

Judge Jonathan Teare described the original assault as "a sustained, prolonged, merciless attack for 10 minutes, accompanied with grossly racist comments by someone".

Chief Superintendent Les Kominiak said of the latest attack: "This is a form of urban terrorism designed to scare people into not coming forward to give evidence and we will not tolerate it. We are sympathetic to the fears of people who come forward as witnesses or to report crime and I want to reassure members of the public that we will offer them our help and support."

On the estate where Mr Senior lives there was also a sense of disbelief. As forensic officers carried out a search outside his house, where two police stood on guard, neighbours described Mr Senior as a "lovely quiet man who went about his business and kept himself to himself".

Robert Watson, Joseph Graham, Lee Marshall and John McNee all pleaded guilty to racially aggravated assault. Watson, 25, of Basford, was sentenced to six years. Graham, 23, of Bestwood Park, and Marshall, 24, of Bulwell, got five years and nine months each and McNee, 24, of no fixed address, two-and-a-half years. The fifth man has not been traced.