A teenager’s brutal attack on a Singaporean student, who was allegedly told “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country”, was racially motivated, magistrates have found.
Jonathan Mok was injured badly enough after being punched and kicked that he needed surgery to his bloodied and bruised face.
It followed an attack by a 15-year-old and his friends in Oxford Street, London, on 24 February.
On Monday, the teenager, who admitted wounding or inflicting GBH but denied the attack was racially motivated, was found guilty of racially aggravated grievous bodily harm at Highbury Corner Youth Court.
The boy, who cannot be named due to his age, had said he did not mention coronavirus, was not a racist, and did not hear any remarks about the infection. He believed COVID-19 was fake at the time, he said.
However, witnesses said the word “disease” or “coronavirus” was used, the court heard, and chair of the bench Lesley Ward described the boy’s claims as “not plausible”.
She said the assault was “unprovoked and racially motivated”.
Previously, the court heard Mok turned around after the 15-year-old’s friend made a remark about COVID-19, to which the friend said: “Don’t you look at me.”
He then punched law student Mok in the face, before the defendant punched and kicked him while making a racist comment, the court heard.
Mok said the defendant told him: “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.”
“My interpretation was he believed that I was the one who brought the coronavirus to this country, or people who look like me,” Mok said.
“I was angry… it was quite shocking because I never expected to face this sort of incident, I have never heard this kind of comment the whole time while studying in London.”
He said his nose “exploded” in the incident.
The youth will be sentenced on 27 January.
Senior crown prosecutor Daniel Kavanagh said previously: “This was a vicious and completely unprovoked attack on a young man who was simply making his way home with a friend after dinner in central London.
“Hate crime has a corrosive effect on our society and nobody should be subjected to such vile behaviour.”
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