Semi-pro footballer beaten in ‘racist’ attack left with life-changing injuries as attacker remains at large

Exclusive: Student Billie Busari, 21, was beaten by two white men in an attack that his family say was racially motivated

Nadine White
Race Correspondent
Thursday 11 August 2022 15:33 BST
Related: Gareth Southgate condemns ‘unacceptable’ racist abuse of England players

The family of a semi-professional footballer who was badly beaten by two men have accused police of failing to properly investigate what they say is a racially motivated attack.

Billie Busari, 21, was left hospitalised after being set upon by two white men on 22 July while collecting a suit from Gunwharf Quays shopping centre.

According to the family of Mr Busari, who plays for Gosport Borough Football Club, the attackers – with a pit bull terrier dog in tow – called him the N-word before attacking him, breaking his jaw.

One of the men, who was allegedly carrying a knife, has since been arrested and released on bail. However, Hampshire Police told The Independent that it has no information to suggest it was a hate crime.

Mr Busari, who cannot talk at the moment, is now unable to eat solid food for the next six months, his family say, and must have a permanent metal plate inserted into his jaw.

Speaking to The Independent on Mr Busari’s behalf, his cousin Aisha Adeji, 29, said his footballing career may be over. She claimed it police took almost two weeks to make contact with the family and they were “not doing enough” to investigate the assault.

“Billie will be eating baby food for the next six weeks,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to his footballing career because of the metal plate and whether he can play the sport again.

“The police have been very blasé so far – but the main person still hasn’t been found and I don’t feel like they’re doing anything. This whole incident has been brushed aside and I want to call it out. Maybe because the attack isn’t being taken as seriously because it happened in Portsmouth as opposed to London.”

Gosport FC has condemned the “cowardly” attack on “one of the nicest young men you could wish to meet”.

After the attack, Mr Busari, who studies electronic engineering at Portsmouth University, managed to attend a medical walk-in centre where staff ordered a taxi to take him to Queen Alexandria Hospital. He’s since been discharged and is now recovering at his family home in London.

“I’d like to say that we want justice – but then I feel like we’re never going to fully get that because my cousin is now always going to have a metal plate in his face for the rest of his life; but we want something to be done,” Ms Adedeji, a business owner, continued.

“I don’t want it to be a case of people being scared to go to certain areas because they’re scared of being up. Right now, my cousin isn’t sure about returning to Portsmouth for university because of what’s happened to him.”

Hampshire Police confirmed that a 23-year-old man from Kent was arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent, criminal damage and possessing an offensive weapon in a private place in connection with the attack, and was later released on conditional bail.

“This incident remains under investigation and officers continue to carry out extensive enquiries to determine the full circumstances of what took place and identify the offenders,” a spokesperson said.

“Lines of inquiry that we have been following include speaking to a number of witnesses who were in the vicinity at the time of the assault and conducting thorough CCTV enquiries, which have been providing us with vital information, all of which is being followed up.”

“We don’t have any information to suggest that this was a hate crime at the current time but we will of course review this if this changes,” the spokesperson added.

Anyone with any information about the attack should call 101 quoting reference 44220294867.

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