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Pair jailed for robbing Malaysian student by posing as Good Samaritans during London Riots are freed as convictions are quashedMillions of people watched in horror the CCTV footage of 21-year-old Ashraf Rossli being robbed
John Kassongs Kafunda, 23, and Reece Donovan, 25 were jailed for robbing him, but saw their convictions overturned todayMr Rossli had only moments earlier had his jaw shattered by another rioter as he cycled in Barking, east London, in August 2011
19:11 GMT, 29 November 2012
Two men who were locked up after they were found guilty of involvement in one of the defining moments of the London riots today had their convictions quashed.
Millions of people around the world watched in horror CCTV footage of 21-year-old Ashraf Rossli being robbed by men purporting to be Good Samaritans.
Mr Rossli, a Malaysian accountancy student, had only moments earlier had his jaw shattered by another rioter as he cycled in Barking, east London, in August 2011.
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Rejoicing: John Kafunda (left) and Reece Donovan (right) who were jailed for robbing a Malaysian student as they pretended to help him during the riots in London after being released today
The pair celebrate as they leave court. At Wood Green Crown
Court, Mr Kafunda was jailed for four years and three months for robbery
and violent disorder, and Mr Donovan for five years for robbery,
violent disorder and burglary
John Kassongs Kafunda, 23, of Ilford, east London, and Reece Donovan, 25, of Romford, Essex, were accused of robbing him as he walked dazed over the Queen’s Road flyover.
At Wood Green Crown Court, Mr Kafunda was jailed for four years and three months for robbery and violent disorder, and Mr Donovan for five years for robbery, violent disorder and burglary.
They appealed and today saw their convictions overturned by the country’s top judge, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with two senior colleagues.
The hearing was held in private at the Court of Appeal, but Lord Judge, Mr Justice Fulford and Mr Justice Bean announced their decision in open court.
Dazed and confused, blood dripping from his mouth, Ashraf Rossli is encircled by thugs after being savagely beaten to the ground during the violence in London
From nowhere, an apparent Good Samaritan walks up and lends a hand to help heave the struggling and injured victim up from the pavement
Lowest of the low: The teenager continues to tend to the wounds on his face as thieves make off with the contents of his rucksack
Infamous: Millions of people around the world
watched in horror CCTV footage of 21-year-old Ashraf Rossli being robbed
by men purporting to be Good Samaritans
Discarded: The thief, having taken the items from the teenager's bag, then casually throws them to the floor before strolling away
Mr Rossli had been in Britain for only a month when he was attacked on August 8, 2010.
Moments later, he is seen in footage being lifted to his feet and, seemingly, shepherded away from trouble.
But soon two men begin rifling through his bag while his back is turned, making off with a games console and games.
Riot victim: Accountancy student Ashraf Rossli, 20, had only arrived in Britain a month before the attack. Here he is pictured
at home in Malaysia. Right he is sitting with his eight-year-old
brother Mohammed Fatiri
Mr Rossli was treated at Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, following the attack
As police looked for the offenders, the footage was posted on YouTube and was watched by millions around the world.
Mr Kafunda and Mr Donovan insisted it was not them in the video clip, but were convicted on the back of anonymous witness evidence.
Judge James Patrick told the pair back in March: ‘What you did … became an iconic image of the lawlessness which saw shops and businesses looted, the emergency services significantly stretched and members of the public too frightened to leave their homes.'
Speaking at Wood Green Crown Court, he said: 'You were part of a crowd described as threatening and menacing. It was appalling to see this group also included young children.
'It was a member of that group who first set upon Mr Rossli. He had his jaw broken and bicycle stolen.
'What you then did was recorded and when broadcast throughout the world brought shock to those who watched it and shame to this country.
'Mr Rossli was particularly vulnerable … and you selected him accordingly.'
The prosecution did not seek a retrial after their convictions were quashed.
IS THE LONG ARM OF THE LAW CATCHING UP WITH THE 2011 RIOTERS
Studies have shown that most of those jailed for their part in last summer’s riots have already been released. Many have been freed little more than ten months after the rioting and in some cases before the halfway point of their sentences.
One academic critic said most of the August 2011 rioters were released in time to be on the streets for any potential repeat of the trouble this year.
In June, only 692 people remained in jail for their part in the mayhem, or were on remand awaiting trial for serious crimes. A further 710 had served their jail term and been released.
Violence flared in Tottenham, North London, on August 6 last year after a protest over the fatal police shooting of local man Mark Duggan.
The trouble spread to Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham, with shops looted and buildings torched.
An official inquiry into the five days of violence, which cost the country at least 500million, concluded that the shameful scenes were motivated by greed.
A panel set up by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg criticised the police for not getting a grip on the violence, but said the rioters’ main objectives were getting their hands on ‘luxury branded goods’ which ‘confer instant status’.
A criminal is typically released after half the sentence has been served – but if the treatment of rioters in prison had been in keeping with the tough policies the courts took when sentencing them, participants in the August disturbances would have been held for longer.
Ministry of Justice figures show that the average sentence for the 1,029 rioters jailed by the Crown Courts was 19.4 months.
Such offenders would normally expect to serve nearly ten months in jail before being freed. But it is believed there are still criminal cases involving offences connected to last year's riots have yet to be completed.
VIDEO: Malaysian student caught on CCTV in London riots