A piece in today’s Times:
Four members of a gang have been spared jail despite their part in a “sustained and horrific” attack on an Egyptian student who died a month later.
Mariam Moustafa, 18, had a stroke that left her in a coma after she was “pushed so hard” that she slammed in to a bus shelter in February last year.
Yesterday Rochelle Dobbin and Netesha Lewis, who are 18, admitted affray were given referral orders along with two girls aged 16 by a judge at Nottingham youth court. Custodial sentences were not imposed because courts should “avoid criminalising young people unnecessarily”, the judge said.
Six people were charged after the incident, with two women sentenced last week for the “cowardly” attack. At Nottingham crown court on Friday, Mariah Fraser, 20, was sent to a young offender institution for eight months and Britania Hunter was given a 12-month community order and told to carry out 40 hours unpaid work. Both had admitted affray.
The youth court was told that Lewis was the ringleader and Dobbin and the others were either videoing the incident or laughing.
Lewis attacked the student, punching her and accusing her for being responsible for a social media account called Black Rose. Mariam’s friend Pablo Jawara tried to protect her.
The prosecution said that the six had not been charged with manslaughter because the attack could not be “legally linked” to the student’s death.
Judge Gregory Dickinson, QC, had previously said that the motivations for the assault were an accusation that Mariam ran the social media account and an argument “about a boy”.
Mariam’s father, Mohamed Moustafa, 51, said that his family was no longer safe after the “unfair” sentences. In a statement he said: “We lost our daughter and we will never get her back. We came to the court of law to get justice for her and for everyone else to live safely in this land. However, the system failed to get justice for Mariam.” The family may now return to Egypt.
Sentencing the four girls, District Judge Timothy Spruce said: “This was a truly shocking attack which has understandably attracted a high media profile and public attention. The consequences for the family have been catastrophic. The logical conclusion to draw is the stroke was brought on by the actions of those who attacked her.
“The atmosphere was clearly one of fear and intimidation. It is a particularly concerning aspect of this case that certain parts of this incident were recorded and put on social media. The clear aim was to film Mariam in a distressed and humiliated state.”
Explaining why he had not passed a custodial sentence, Judge Spruce said: “The court should focus on rehabilitation wherever possible. Custody should always be a last resort for young people.”
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