A man charged with attacking five religious Jews in the North London neighbourhood of Stamford Hill has pleaded guilty to two criminal charges, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has outrageously dropped the religiously/racially aggravated element of the charges as part of a plea bargain.
Last Thursday, Abdullah Qureshi, 28, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty at Thames Magistrates’ Court to one count of assault by beating and one count of grievous bodily harm with intent. But it has emerged that the CPS dropped the religiously/racially-aggravated element of the charges, despite Mr Quershi having attacked only visibly Jewish people — including a child and a 64-year-old man — that day in one of Britain’s most diverse neighbourhoods.
In one incident at 18:41, an Orthodox Jewish man was struck in the face with what appeared to be a bottle. In another at 19:10, a child was slapped on the back of the head, and in yet another at 20:30, a 64-year-old victim was struck and left unconscious on the ground, suffering facial injuries and a broken ankle. It is understood that two further incidents have been alleged.
The incidents received significant media attention at the time, and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, condemned “this appalling attack,” adding: “Let me be clear, racist abuse and hate crime, including antisemitism, have absolutely no place in our city.”
Mr Qureshi had originally been charged with in connection with a series of assaults in Stamford Hill in August, with one count of racially or religiously aggravated wounding or grievous bodily harm, four counts of racially or religiously aggravated common assault and one count of racially or religious aggravated criminal damage. The charges related to five incidents on 18th August investigated by Metropolitan Police’s Central East Command Unit. Groups including Campaign Against Antisemitism and Stamford Hill Shomrim, the Jewish volunteer neighbourhood watch patrol, put out witness appeals following the incidents, as three of the five alleged incidents were caught on video.
He is due to be sentenced in May, but the guilty pleas will come as little consolation for his victims or the wider Jewish community.
Recent polling by Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that a record 59% of British Jews do not believe that the CPS does enough to protect them. This failed prosecution will be viewed by many in the Jewish community as another failure of the CPS to protect them.
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “In a violent spree, Abdullah Qureshi attacked innocent Jews as he came across them in the street, from a young child to an elderly man. We applaud the Shomrim for reporting these incidents and the police for identifying the perpetrator. It is disgraceful that, once again, the CPS has proved to be the weak link in our collective effort to secure justice and protection for British Jews. Polling shows that a majority of British Jews do not believe that the CPS does enough to protect them. This failed prosecution will only reinforce that eminently reasonable conclusion.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis of Home Office statistics shows that an average of over three hate crimes are directed at Jews every single day in England and Wales, with Jews almost four times more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other faith group.