We feel cheated by British justice, say parents of 'Bad Samaritan' riot victim
Ashraf Rossli, 21, was robbed by two men as he lay on the ground with a shattered jaw during last summer's London riotsReece Donovan and John Kafunda were charged but their convictions overturned on ThursdayThe Judge said the conviction was unsafe as it was based on evidence from two anonymous witnesses
23:19 GMT, 1 December 2012
The parents of a Malaysian student robbed by thugs posing as Good Samaritans have described how they feel cheated by British justice after the men convicted of the attack were acquitted by an Appeal Court judge.
Ashraf Rossli, 21, was robbed by two men who tried to ‘help’ him to his feet as he lay on the ground having had his jaw shattered by a thug during last summer’s London riots. The robbery, filmed on a mobile phone and uploaded on to YouTube, caused outrage.
Within weeks, Reece Donovan and John Kafunda, both 23, were arrested and charged for the offence and, in March, were each sentenced to four years in jail. But their convictions were overturned on Thursday.
Disappointed: Rossli Harun and Maznah Abu Mansor, the Parents of student Ashraf Rossli, who was robbed by thugs posing as Good Samaritans, told how they feel cheated by British justice after the men convicted of the attack were acquitted
Mr Rossli’s father, retired army officer Rossli Harun, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘This is not justice. This is not fair. We are all very upset.’
Mr Harun, 50, is angry that neither the police nor the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) informed his son or the family about the High Court’s decision. He and his son learned about the judgment after being contacted separately by The Mail on Sunday.
The failure of the police and the CPS to contact the family was in marked contrast to the way they were feted a year ago by senior police figures and politicians. Mr Rossli, an accountancy student, was hosted in Parliament by Labour MP Keith Vaz and also met London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Attacked: Ashraf Rossli, 21, was robbed by two men who tried to 'help' him to his feet as he lay on the ground having had his jaw shattered during the London riots
When Mr Harun and his wife flew to their son’s hospital bedside, they were greeted by senior police officers and politicians. Speaking from his home in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, Mr Harun said: ‘None of the people we met when we visited London has contacted us.’
Donovan, from Romford, Essex, was a heavy cannabis user who had convictions for theft, affray and violent assault against a police officer.
Kafunda, from Ilford, East London, was jailed for six months in 2005 for robbing the same person twice.
When they were found guilty of robbing his son, Mr Harun said his faith in the British judicial system was restored. But last week, the two men walked free from the Royal Courts of Justice and celebrated with champagne after the country’s top judge, Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, overturned the verdict.
He said the conviction was unsafe as it was primarily based on evidence given by two anonymous witnesses.
Horrified by the ruling, Mr Harun, said: ‘What happened to my son would never have happened in Malaysia. In Malaysia, people are taught from an early age that they will be punished if they do something that is against the law. They would be afraid to behave like this. They would never dare do it.’
Mr Harun said his son still suffers from a phobia of going out into as a result of the attack. Mr Rossli scored straight-As in his high school exams, and won a scholarship worth 60,000 from the Malaysian government to study in Britain.
Freed: John Kafunda (far left) and Reece Donovan (right with his mother) were charged for the offence and each sentenced to four years in jail but their convictions were overturned on Thursday
Overturned verdict: The pair walked free and celebrated with champagne after Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said the conviction was unsafe as it was primarily based on evidence given by two anonymous witnesses
Speaking from his student digs in the upmarket London area of Bayswater, Mr Rossli said he still hoped that his attackers would one day face justice. He said: ‘This has brought back a lot of emotions but I am just trying to get on with life.’ He added: ‘It is very difficult for me to forgive the people who hurt me and I haven’t managed to do that yet. Hopefully, one day the people who are responsible will face justice.’
Mr Vaz said he was shocked by the acquittal of Kafunda and Donovan. He said: ‘I am deeply disappointed that the people convicted of this offence which shocked the nation should have been acquitted.
‘I met Ashraf Rossli on two occasions, along with his family. He is one of the most gentle, kind people you can meet.’
Sickening: Phone footage of last year's attack on Mr Rossli which was uploaded on to YouTube, caused outrage
Mr Vaz, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, added: ‘I am disappointed that no one has informed him of the outcome.
‘He should have been given full details about the case and the verdict immediately. We must ensure this never happens again, and someone needs to apologise to him for this error.’
The Metropolitan Police said detectives did try to contact Mr Rossli through the Malaysian embassy after Thursday’s High Court ruling, but ‘were unsuccessful’. Police have since managed to contact him after he was informed by the Mail on Sunday.
This weekend, Donovan protested his innocence and said that the last 16 months of being locked up in custody and serving the jail sentence was ‘hell’ for him.
Speaking from his mother Lisa’s house in Stepney, East London, he said: ‘We’re [he and Kafunda] scared to go outside because we are the most hated people in Britain. I lost my girlfriend and flat as a result of all this and my solicitor will be looking into compensation from the police.’