Riots: Two guilty of attacking Malaysian student Ashraf Rossli


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The Independent Online

Two thugs who posed as Good Samaritans in one of the most notorious crimes of the London riots were facing jail tonight after being convicted of robbing a defenceless Malaysian student.

Ashraf Rossli, 21, had been in Britain just a month when he was knocked to the ground and left a bloodied mess on August 8 last year.

Moments after his jaw was smashed and his bicycle stolen, John Kafunda, 22, was caught on camera lifting him up and appearing to shepherd him from trouble.

But seconds later he and Reece Donovan, 22, began rifling through his rucksack as the victim's back was to them and robbed him of a portable Playstation and 10 games worth £500.

As police hunted the offenders, the footage was posted on YouTube and broadcast on news channels causing global outrage.

Today, the duo were convicted unanimously by a jury at London's Wood Green Crown Court of robbery and violent disorder, with Donovan also convicted of theft and burgling a Tesco store.

As the five women and seven men of the jury returned their verdicts the pair shook their heads and muttered.

And as powerfully-built Kafunda, of Eastwood Road in Ilford was led from the court, he shouted: "You're sending an innocent man down, bruv, innit."

Chief Superintendent Gary Buttercase, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "I have met Mr Rossli and he is a man of humility and dignity and a tremendous credit to his country, and I am particularly pleased that we have managed to get justice for the appalling attack he suffered and the subsequent theft that has attracted derision from across the world.

"I would also like to thank the many witnesses in this case who have shown fantastic public spirit in coming forward and assisting my officers.

"I wish Mr Rossli an enjoyable stay in London for the rest of his studies and thank him for his co-operation in this matter."

Jenny Hopkins, the London head of the Crown Prosecution Service's complex casework, said: "The image of Reece Donovan rifling through the contents of this vulnerable young man's bag was one of the most shocking images from the public disorder in the summer of 2011.

"Before this, John Kafunda approached Ashraf Rossli and lifted him up to his feet.

"He gave every impression of simply helping Mr Rossli, having realised that he was injured.

"If his initial impulse was to help, it was quickly superseded by a decision to steal from the helpless and injured victim.

"These were cowardly actions by two individuals who took advantage of a young man already dazed from a previous assault (for which another man was convicted in February), which left him with his jaw broken in two places.

"This verdict means justice has been served and the Crown Prosecution Service, working closely with the police, will continue to robustly prosecute those involved in the disorder last year."

The accountancy student won universal support and admiration after the attack and a campaign was launched to raise money for him.

In February, during another trial, he said that he was cycling to keep a frightened female friend company when he was attacked on a flyover in Barking.

Beau Isagba, 17, of Ilford, was convicted of punching him in the face, smashing his jaw and cycling off with his bicycle.

Mr Rossli, who is slim and 5ft 4in tall, now has two metal plates in his jaw.

Moments later Kafunda stepped in followed by Donovan and they plundered his rucksack.

In a police statement given to the jury, Mr Rossli said he could not defend himself.

"I was sat on the pavement with blood pouring from my mouth," he said.

"I remember being approached by a male who asked if I was OK.

"I remember being pulled to my feet, then I felt someone again tugging at my rucksack.

"I was not in a position to defend myself and was still suffering from the effects of being hit.

"I knew they were stealing from me but I could do nothing.

"Once they had taken what they wanted, they left."

The men denied the charges but two witnesses, who were granted anonymity, told the trial they recognised them.

Isagba will be sentenced on March 9 - the day after his 18th birthday.

Kafunda and Donovan will be sentenced on March 13.

The maximum sentence for robbery is life.