Death of a Qatari Student 2008

From Historical Hastings

On the 22nd of August, 2008, a 16 year old student from Qatar suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage and fractured skull following a dispute outside a kebab shop on White Rock. Mohammed al-Majed, a student at the White Rock Language school was chatting with some friends in and outside the shop when insults were traded between his group and that of 22 year old Greg Austin.

A friend of Mohammed's, Peter Henworth dodged one punch from Austin's friend Paul Rockett after racist insults had been exchanged. Austin then threw a punch which knocked Mohammed to the ground, unconscious. Austin and Alexander Quinn fled the scene prior to police arriving, whilst Rockett was arrested for being drunk and disorderly.

Mohammed regained consciousness briefly in the back of a police van, then was taken to the Conquest Hospital for treatment. Austin, Following a CT scan, it was discovered that he had suffered a bleed on the brain and a fractured skull and it was decided to transfer him to Kings College Hospital for further treatment. Whilst there, two days later he suffered a cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead in the early hours of the 25th of August.

Rockett was re-arrested, while Quinn was arrested and charged with wounding with intent.

During their police interviews, they told officers that Mohammed's friends had started the fracas and claimed that they were a gang who were "trying to turn all the kids into Muslims". Both admitted drinking up to seven cans of lager each beforehand but denied any blame for the incident.

Austin, of Barkworth Road, Bermondsey, south east London, fled to Cyprus, claiming he had gone there for work. He was subsequently arrested by officers when he flew into Gatwick Airport on November 20 2008. In his interview he said that he thought Mohammed's group were going to attack him and he only threw the punch in self defence.

Rockett, of Ham Lane, Burwash, near Etchingham, had denied racially aggravated common assault, while Quinn, of Mountbatten Close, Hastings, denied wounding with intent and unlawful wounding and Austin had denied manslaughter in interview.

At a trial at Lewes Crown Court, Austin was found guilty of manslaughter after 8 hours of deliberation and sentenced to Rockett and a third co-defendant, Alexander Quinn, were found guilty of racially aggravated common assault and wounding with intent respectively.

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