Family of accountant killed over taxi plead for witness

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The Independent Online

The family of a black accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers who was killed in a row over a taxi have appealed for help finding his killer.

Jay Abatan died 17 months ago after an attack outside a Brighton nightclub, but his killer has not been caught. His brother, Michael, and Worthing West MP, Peter Bottomley, pleaded yesterday for "Justice for Jay"

Michael Abatan, who was also injured in the attack, said he had sworn the day Jay died to fight for justice. "We were attacked and he was killed. This was in front of lots of people. Someone saw what happened and I want them to come forward," he said.

Mr Abatan said the Macpherson report into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in London had "changed nothing".

"No one has been brought to account for my brother's death," he said. "The criminal justice system has failed a black person again. Jay's family are left with no answers as to how he went out that night and never came home."

Mr Bottomley, who was MP for Eltham at the time of Stephen Lawrence's death in the constituency, began by apologising to Stephen's parents, Neville and Doreen, for not making more of a fuss over their son's case. "It was at a similar stage in the proceedings after Stephen Lawrence's death that I was unhappy about the police investigation.

"I went to see Sir Paul Condon, the commissioner of [the Metropolitan] police, to say that there were worries. He came back saying he'd looked into it and things were all right. I didn't make a fuss then - I didn't ask for an inquiry early enough. I don't want to make the same mistake again."

Mr Bottomley said that he had asked for assurance from Sussex Police that Jay's case would be treated the same way it would have been had he been white.

Sussex Police said it does not believe the attack on Mr Abatan, 42, who lived in a five-bedroom home in Eastbourne, East Sussex, was racially motivated. No one had admitted to striking Mr Abatan and no one had witnessed who assaulted him, it said.

The killing happened when the brothers left the Ocean Rooms nightclub in Brighton after Michael's 31st birthday celebration and became involved in a dispute over a taxi. They were kicked and punched and Jay suffered severe brain injuries and was in a coma for five days before doctors decided there was no hope for him.

Graham Curtis, 38, from Brighton, and Peter Bell, 36, of Hove, were arrested within 24 hours of the attack but manslaughter charges against them were dropped and they were cleared earlier this week of actual bodily harm against Michael Abatan.