Page last updated at 17:23 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Man jailed for racist row killing

George Austin
George Austin punched Mohammed so hard that he fell on the pavement

A 22-year-old man has been jailed for killing a Qatari student during a racist row in East Sussex.

George Austin, from south London, who was convicted of manslaughter at an earlier hearing at Lewes Crown Court was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Mohammed al-Majed, 16, died after he was punched in the face and hit the pavement in Hastings on 22 August 2008.

The judge called Austin and two other co-defendants "a terrible advertisement to the youth of this country".

Judge Anthony Scott-Gall told Austin, of Barkworth Road, Bermondsey, that Mohammed's life had been "needlessly and senselessly snuffed out by an unforgivable act of violence".

Co-defendants Paul Rockett, 22, and Alexander Quinn, 19, were found guilty of racially aggravated common assault and wounding with intent respectively, in relation to attacks on two of Mohammed's friends.

The judge said foreign students came to Britain to seek new opportunities, but Mohammed and his friends had encountered the defendants' collective disgraceful and unlawful conduct.

'Dark side'

Judge Scott-Gall added: "It was clear that the three of you were so affected by drink that you were unable to exercise proper, meaningful self-control."

He also said it was not the view of the court that the three young men were "ingrained racists".

Rockett and Austin had a "dark side" to their nature, he said, adding: "In drink you were unable to govern yourselves in a way that one expects people to do."

Mohammed al-Majed
Mohammed had been due to return to Qatar a week after the attack

Mohammed died in hospital three days after being assaulted outside a kebab shop on Hastings seafront during a row which began with racist taunts.

He suffered a brain haemorrhage and fractured skull, and died after going into cardiac arrest.

The teenager was studying English at a language school in Hastings and had been due to return home to Qatar a week later.

Rockett, of Ham Lane, Burwash, near Etchingham, was sentenced to four months in jail, and Quinn, of Mountbatten Close, Hastings, was sentenced to two years in a young offenders institute.

Defence counsel Susan Rodham asked if Austin's sentence could reflect that the death followed a single punch.

She said: "It was not premeditated in any way, it was an indirect injury that was not foreseeable in the circumstances."

Stuart Biggs, defending Rockett, said his actions were born out of naivety rather than racism.

Rossano Scamardella, defending Quinn, said he was not involved in Austin's or Rockett's incidents and had reacted after apparently seeing someone being beaten up.

Outside court, Det Ch Insp Trevor Bowles said the judge's words were "a very sad comment" on what happened that night, but added: "I do believe that these three are not representative of young people in this country."

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