Teen denies hitting Malaysian student Ashraf Rossli during riots in Barking
A teenager who denies smashing a Malaysian student’s jaw in the London riots said today he was ashamed of the person who did it.
Ashraf Rossli, 20, had been in Britain for just a month when he was attacked and his bicycle stolen in Barking, east London, last August.
As looting and rioting swept through England, Mr Rossli was cycling to look after a scared female friend when he encountered a mob.
He managed to move through the crowd but was hit in the face and left on the floor in a pool of blood.
Seconds later his bicycle was stolen.
Today, a 17-year-old boy who admits stealing the bike, told Wood Green Crown Court: “I felt ashamed of the person who did assault Mr Rossli.
“I felt very disgusted with what happened and I feel very sorry for him.”
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The defendant admits stealing the bicycle because he was “tired” but insisted a witness was mistaken in saying the person who punched Mr Rossli also stole the bike.
The defendant is too young to be named but has admitted that before stealing the bike he committed violent disorder and two counts of burglary by breaking into a betting shop and a food and wine store.
Asked by his barrister, Robert Shaw, how he felt about himself, he answered: “When I watched the footage in interview I was very, very ashamed of myself and panicked and was very worried.
“I didn’t mean to take the bike that was on the floor and not aware of anyone who was there being injured.
“I felt very ashamed of myself.
“I don’t think it was right and feel very sorry for what I did.”
The defendant, who the jury heard is 6ft 1in tall and “firmly built”, denies causing grievous bodily harm with intent, inflicting GBH and robbery.
He denies demanding the bike from Mr Rossli, who has two metal plates in his jaw, before allegedly throwing a single punch.
He said he was drunk on the day and only took Mr Rossli’s bicycle because he was “tired” and a crowd of 100 onlookers screamed at him to do so.
CCTV footage of the moments after the attack was played to the jury of three women and eight men in which only a few people were present as the victim sat bloodied on the floor.
Christopher Hehir, prosecuting, said: “It’s just you and three others.”
Several times the defendant said he could not remember details such as why he wore a hoodie and heavy jacket on a summer’s day and repeated that he was “tired” so took the bicycle.
He said he knew there was going to be trouble that day and “got caught up in the crowd and got excited” but said he was “not at all” interested in stealing property.
As cross-examination continued, the teenager admitted he was interested in stealing other people’s property.
He said he left nearby Ilford Lane, where he looted, for Barking where he stole the bike because he was trying to find his younger brother.
“You’re saying you were going on some mission of mercy to find your younger brother?” asked Mr Hehir.
“Yes,” replied the defendant.
He said by stealing the bicycle he was “not behaving dishonestly but I was behaving in a way I shouldn’t have”.
Mr Hehir explained what theft was and reminded him he had pleaded guilty to stealing the bike, for the defendant to change his mind and agree he behaved dishonestly.
Asked why he took it, he said he was not aware it belonged to anyone, and added: “Not sure.
“I was tired and excited.
“I just picked up the bike and rode off.”
Mr Hehir asked him why he was so tired and the accused answered that he had been running around using a lot of energy.
“Is it your evidence that all the crimes you committed in Ilford Lane had made you exhausted?” asked the barrister.
“Basically, yes,” answered the defendant, dressed in a grey suit, shirt and tie.
After cycling off the teenager dumped the bike at a nearby Tesco.
“I was feeling a bit tired so I put the bicycle down so I went to the bus stop to go home.”
He did not think he was “physically able” to punch Mr Rossli, the court heard.
The teenager was arrested three weeks after the attack, and he said today that the detectives pressured him and he panicked.
He said: “I have never been arrested before - I have been arrested before. But I have never been put under that pressure before.”
The jury are expected to begin their deliberations tomorrow morning.