Deaths with a (known or suspected) racial element 1991-1999
November 8, 2002 — News
Written by Harmit Athwal
The IRR has, since 1991, been documenting murders with a suspected or known racial element.*
1991, Bruce Bryan, 37, central London
A father of two murdered in a street attack during which Bruce was racially abused and stabbed to death. The assailant also turned his knife on Bruce’s brother, Kelvin, stabbing him in the stomach. In 1992, Ronnie O’Sullivan was ordered to serve at least 18 years for murder. The court was told how O’Sullivan had been drinking and went ‘looking for trouble’. Though he racially abused the brothers, O’Sullivan said the attack was not racially motivated.
02/91, Rolan Adams, 15, Greenwich, South London
Attacked by 12-strong gang shouting ‘ni**er’. Stabbed in throat. Recorded as racially motivated after initial prevarication. Mark Thornborrow given life sentence for murder, 7 others charged with violent disorder (later reduced to minor public order offences and given community service orders.)
01/92, Panchadcharam Sahitharan, 28, Newham, East London
Attacked by gang with baseball bats. Andrew Noble and Gary Hoskin charged with murder and affray. Charges later dropped against Noble, Hoskin acquitted.
01/92, Navid Sadiq, 15, Southwark, South London
Shot during robbery on off-licence where he worked. On hearing that he had caused injury, attacker said ‘Good. I hope they die. My name is Conroy, good English name that. What am I going to get for doing a couple of P*kis? I am Anglo Saxon’. Joseph Conroy given 2 life sentences for murder and attempted murder.
01/92, Mohammed Sarwar, 40s, Manchester
Mini-cab driver dragged from car beaten and left dying in the road. Not recorded as racially motivated.
02/92, Siddik Dada, 60, Manchester
Beaten by gang armed with machetes. Not recorded as racially motivated.
03/92, Donald Palmer, 52, South London
Stabbed by 2 men he found attempting to break into his car. After stabbing men taunted Palmer’s wife saying, ‘We are the National Front’. George McKay given life sentence for murder. Wayne McGrath given 31/2 years youth custody for manslaughter.
07/92, Rohit Duggal, 15, Eltham, South London
Gang attack. Not recorded as racially motivated by police but CPS made some reference to racial motivation during trial. Peter Thompson given life sentence for murder.
07/92, Ruhullah Aramesh, 24, Thornton Heath, South London
Gang attack by around 15 teenagers with metal bars. Recorded as racially motivated. Barry Hannon, Paul Hannon, Joseph Curtin given life for murder. One other convicted of manslaughter through diminished responsiblity, 3 acquitted. Curtin freed on appeal (due to judges’ failure to summarise police interview) after serving 3 years.
09/92, Ashiq Hussain, 21, Birmingham
Stabbed on petrol station forecourt after going to aid of another driver being racially abused. Not recorded as racially motivated. Mark Jarvis given 5 years for manslaughter. 2 others acquitted of manslaughter.
09/92, Khoaz Aziz Miah, 60s, Newcastle
Beaten by gang while on his way to mosque. Not accepted as racially motivated until first day of trial. Michael Neilson given life for murder.
10/92, Sher Singh Sagoo, Deptford, South London
Gang attack in Deptford market where Sagoo was a trader. One person charged with manslaughter, CPS discontinued prosecution on grounds of ‘insufficient evidence’.
03/93, Fiaz Mirza, 42, Docklands, East London
Minicab driver, abducted, beaten and body thrown in Thames. Mark Lee, Ricky Lee both given life for murder.
04/93, Stephen Lawrence, 18, Eltham, South-east London
Stabbed by gang as he walked to a bus stop with a friend. Police failed to conduct a proper investigation and in July 1993 charges against two youths were dropped because the Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence. In April 1996, the Lawrence family launched a private prosecution that collapsed. In July 1997 a public inquiry into the death and the police was announced. The Inquiry by Sir William Macpherson reported in February 1999 and made numerous recommendations about the investigation and prosecution of racially motivated crimes. In March 2010, it was decided by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) that no further action would be taken against a retired police officer and a civilian staff member, following an investigation into allegations that evidence was hidden during the investigation into Stephen’s murder. Two people were arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice following a police review of the murder which uncovered information that might not have been disclosed during the murder investigation.
04/93, Saied Ahmed, 68, Oxford
Died of burns after arson attack on home.
11/93, Ali Ibrahim, 21, Brighton
Stabbed by drunk shouting racist abuse. Police accepted racial motivation after initially disregarding it. Ian Leaney given life for murder. Stephen MacKrill acquitted after jury failed to reach verdict.
06/94, Shamsuddin Mahmood, 26, Orkney, Scotland
This Bangladeshi waiter was shot in the face by a masked White man in an Indian restaurant in Kirkwall, Orkney. Several thousand people were interviewed but no one was charged. In May 1997, Orkney police officer, Eddie Ross, a registered firearms instructor, was charged with wilful neglect and violation of duty by attempting to conceal evidence from officers during the murder investigation. He admitted hiding bullets of a similar calibre and bearing similar numbers to those that were used in the murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison but later released, declaring his innocence of any involvement in the murder. In January 2004, for the first time detectives admitted the murder might have had a racial motive. The case was reopened after a witness said that he had seen Ross’ son Michael in a public toilet with a gun and a balaclava on the night of the murder. A former girlfriend claimed that he had told her he had taken a gun from his father’s gun cabinet. Other witnesses came forward to say that prior to the murder they had seen Ross, then 15, in woods wearing a balaclava carrying out military exercises. Michael Ross, known for his racist views, was in June 2008 found guilty of the murder (on a majority verdict after a six-week trial at Glasgow Crown Court) ands jailed for life, with a minimum term of 25 years. Then in December he received a further five years after admitting attempting to defeat the ends of justice by trying to escape and firearms offences (a hire car was found near the court with a gun, grenades and ammunition). Ross is also appealing against his murder conviction. (Read an IRR News story: ‘Convictions in three Black murder cases’)
07/94, Donna O’Dwyer, 26, Leyton, East London
Fell 13 floors to escape fire after arson attack on party. Not recorded as racially motivated despite attackers’ ex National Front membership and collection of nazi paraphernalia. Peter Thurston given life for arson, GBH and murder.
12/94, Mohan Singh Kullar, 60, Neath, South Wales
Beaten to death in his own shop by racist gang. Recorded as racially motivated. Grant Watkins sentenced to life for murder, Stephen May 8 years for manslaughter, Ian Thomas 3 1/2 years for violent disorder. Two others acquitted.
02/95, Mushtaq Hussain, 49, Blackburn
Died of stroke after being beaten. Two men were charged with manslaughter.
03/96, Daniel Blake, 18, Neasden, North-west London
Daniel died in mysterious circumstances. He was found dead on a railway line in Neasden. There was evidence that there had been an argument and a fight prior to his death. British Transport Police arrested eight men and two women in connection with his death but the CPS decided not to prosecute anyone. In 1999, Daniels body was exhumed by order of the Racial and Violent Crime Task Unit who reopened the case.
04/96, John Reid, 51, Plumstead, South London
White man married to black woman. Beaten to death and set on fire after long-running racist campaign against couple. In October 1998, the three men who had appealed against their murder convictions, were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
06/96 Simon Tang, 28, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland
A Chinese businessman who was beaten and robbed as he left his takeaway, died from his injuries in hospital the following day. In 2012, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said that there was a racist motive in the murder and, in May 2012, two local men, Paul Allen and George Robinson, were charged with murder. Another man and two women were also charged with perverting the course of justice. They were suspected of having links to the UVF. In February 2013, the murder charges against the two men were withdrawn as well as the charges against two women accused of supplying false alibis.
01/97, Michael Menson, 29, Edmonton, North London
Set alight by group of youths while in phone box. Not recorded as racially motivated until approx 1 year afterwards. Police initially believed Menson set light to himself. After arrests in March 1999, Mario Pereira was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life while Harry Charalambous was jailed for 12 years for manslaughter. Ozguy Cevat was pursued to Northern Cyprus where he was prosecuted for manslaughter and sentenced to 14 years.
10/97, Lahkvinder ‘Ricky’ Reel, 18, Kingston, Surrey
Disappeared after racial incident in town centre on leaving nightclub, body later dragged from Thames. Regarded as ‘accidental death’ by police. No murder investigation. An inquest later recorded an open verdict, thus refuting police assumptions that Ricky’s death was an accident.
02/98, James Tossell, 16, Kengfig Hill, near Bridgend, Wales
James and his friend, Steven Gibbs, were racially abused and attacked by a gang of youths who threw bricks at Steven’s home where James and Steven had barricaded themselves. The flat was later set alight and James died. Charges against two youths were dropped because of insufficient evidence.The CPS also decided there was insufficent evidence to prosecute the officers involved in the investigation of the original attack, after a complaint was made by the Tossell family.
04/98, Akofa Hodasi, 24, Frimley, Surrey
Found hanging from a tree three days after being the victim of a vicious racist attack by a gang of white youths during which his friend, Nathan Evans, was repeatedly slashed. No one has been charged in relation to Akofa’s death.
11/98, Remi Surage, 56, Orpington, Kent
Knifed in the back and later died in hospital. One of his attackers, Paul Knight, who is also alleged to have wounded another black man, maintained that he was mentally unfit to plead and was sent to Broadmoor indefinitely for manslaughter (through diminished responsibility). The other attackers remain at large.
11/98, Surjit Singh Chhokar, 32, Wishaw, Lanarkshire
Attacked with a knife outside his girlfriend’s house by three white men. The attackers were identified by Surjit’s girlfriend and arrested, but only one of them stood trial – for assault, not murder – and was later discharged. After a family campaign, two other men stood trial in connection with his death and in November 2000 they were found not guilty of his murder. One of the men, 19-year-old Andrew Coulter, received a 12-month sentence for assaulting Surjit and theft from his flat. Two reports into the murder were published: one by advocate Dr Raj Jandoo found elements of institutional racism in the procedures of Strathclyde Police and the prosecution service. As a result, Scotland’s eight police forces were issued with new guidelines on dealing with racist crime.
12/98, Farhan Mire, 32, Harrow, North London
Kicked to death in street by white man after an argument with a woman who then shouted for help. A man was charged with the murder in April 1999 but later released after the CPS decided that there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
01/99, Jay Abatan, 42, Brighton
Died five days after being attacked at the Ocean Rooms nightclub after an argument over a mini cab. Two men charged with manslaughter but charges later dropped.
05/99, Stelios Economou, 20, North London
Stelios was pushed under a train after helping two black girls who were being racially abused. Allan Casey was arrested and pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility. Casey is being detained indefinitely in a mental institution.
07/99, Harold (aka Errol) McGowan, 32, Telford, Shropshire
Found hanged in suspicious circumstances after suffering two-year campaign of racist abuse. Police assumed the death was a suicide. No-one has been charged in relation to Harold’s death.
07/99, Liaquat (aka Bobby) Ali, 30, Bury, Manchester
Murdered, as he lay sleeping, by racist house-mate, 28-year-old Simon Rawcliffe. His racist record was not fully disclosed in court, but he was detained at Ashworth mental hospital for life. In September 2003, an inquiry was critical of the psychiatric care that Rawcliffe received from mental health professionals in Bury. It found that his notes had been lost and that staff were not fully aware of his mental problems before he was released to stay in bed-and-breakfast accommodation.
07/99, Joseph Alcendor, 62, Paddington, London
Died after being punched in the head after leaving a party. A man has been charged with murder.
09/99, Ben Kamanalagi, 28, Salford, Manchester
Died in hospital after being beaten by four men armed with baseball bats and fence posts. It is thought the attack was motivated by revenge after Ben, who worked as a nightclub bouncer, had three days earlier thrown a young man out of the club. In February 2001, two men were jailed for five and half years for murder and another man was cleared.
09/99, Hassan Musa, 44, Sunderland
A Libyan student who died after spending twenty-one years in a vegetative state as a result of being kicked unconscious in a racist gang attack by white thugs in Sunderland in July 1978. At the time of the attack, 23-year-old Hassan, who was a student in Chelmsford, was visiting friends in Sunderland. He spent twenty-years in hospital before he died from pneumonia in Royal Liverpool University hospital. Three men, likened to a ‘pack of dogs’, were sentenced to a total of eleven years imprisonment after being found guilty of GBH and public order offences. The inquest recorded a verdict of unlawful killing and the case was referred back to Sunderland police who ruled out further prosecutions because Hassan survived for more that a year after he was assaulted.
12/99, Zardasht Draey, 19, Fulham, west London
A Kurdish man, whose family fled Iraq in the 1991 Gulf war, attacked in the early hours of the morning and found with serious injuries at a bus-stop in Fulham. He died in hospital two days later as a result of serious head injuries. In June 2000, Christopher Peterkin was convicted of his murder.
12/99, Jason McGowan, 20, Telford, Shropshire
Disappeared minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve. He was found hanged on roadside railings a few hours later. He had been investigating his uncle’s apparent suicide (see above). Police assumed a second suicide and no-one has been charged in relation to Jason’s death.
Other deaths from 1991-1999 in which racism probably played a significant role
- 10/95, Gosar Shah, 68, Bounds Green (north London) Died of a heart attack after suffering racial abuse, Bounds Green, north London.
- 03/96, Michael Czytajlo, 74, Oldham Ukrainian holocaust survivor, died of heart attack after suffering racial abuse.
- 11/99, Jermaine Lee, 29, Birmingham A postman found hanged after suffering years of racist abuse and bullying by colleagues at the Aston sorting office. In July 2002, his family was awarded £100,000 after Royal Mail settled out of court.
* The IRR considers that the identification of racially motivated murders and attacks must depend on an objective evaluation of the whole context in which the murder or attack takes place and not just on the skin colour or ethnicity of the alleged perpetrator(s) or victim. In particular, the IRR would regard a murder or attack as racially motivated if the evidence indicates that someone of a different ethnicity, in the same place and similar circumstances, would not have been attacked in the same way. Subject to the above, a formal legal finding or allegation of racial motivation would be taken as prima facie (but not definitive) evidence that a murder or attack was racially motivated. Last updated on 7 March 2013. Additional information on these cases is available on request.
The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.