Engineer run over in race attack: Three jailed for 'appalling' assault on black man victimised for having white girlfriend

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A BLACK engineer was beaten, stabbed with screwdrivers and run over with his own car by three drunken white strangers who objected to him having a white girlfriend, a court was told yesterday.

Kenneth Harris limped into the Old Bailey yesterday to see his attackers jailed for up to five years for what Judge Brian Smedley described as 'an appalling incident of unprovoked violence'.

He told them: 'The victim of your attack was entirely innocent, as was his girlfriend, and there can be no doubt the only reason for this attack was that he happened to be black and she happened to be white.'

Edward Duggan, 25, was jailed for three years and Laurie Ridley, 22, who drove the car, was jailed for five years. The court heard that Ridley's bedroom was decorated with racist posters and an Iron Cross on a swastika chain. The third attacker, Vincent Ribbans, 26, was jailed for three years. Ribbans, unemployed, and Ridley, a roofer, both of Goresbrook Road, Dagenham, east London, and Duggan, 25, unemployed, of Maxey Road, Dagenham, denied attempted murder, but their guilty pleas to causing grievous bodily harm with intent were accepted by the prosecution.

The court heard that the three drunken men drove into an east London service station last October as Mr Harris and his girlfriend, Lynn Woodard, called in to buy groceries.

They saw Miss Woodard getting out of the car and started calling her 'a slag and a slut'. Jonathan Laidlaw, for the prosecution, said she ignored this but was pelted with chips and half-eaten bits of burger and called 'a nigger lover and wog's meat' by the three men, who had driven their van alongside the car.

Ridley came up to the car and kicked the panels. When Mr Harris asked Ridley what the problem was, he was told it was because he was black. Ridley challenged him to a fight and threatened him with a screwdriver. Ribbans then grabbed him from behind and held his arms while the other two stamped, kicked and punched him. Video cameras picked up Duggan pulling a screwdriver from his cardigan.

Ridley jumped into his victim's car and to chants from his friends of 'run him over, run him over', reversed the car over Mr Harris.

Mr Harris, who had a fractured skull and multiple cuts and lacerations consistent with injuries caused by screwdrivers, still needs painkillers, cannot sleep properly and suffers hallucinations. He is unable to walk properly because his left leg collapses under him after short distances.

Lawyers for the three told the judge that their clients were not racist. The offences had happened on the spur of the moment after they had taken drink and drugs. They had very little memory of what happened.

After the hearing, Mr Harris told reporters that the three men 'got what they deserved'.

Miss Woodard said she still had nightmares about what happened. She had never before in her 18-month relationship with Mr Harris suffered any racial abuse. 'What happened that night was terrifying.'

Detective Inspector Tony Croft, of Ilford CID, said it was the worst case of racial violence he had dealt with.