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Five Year Sentence For Man Who Beat Up Chinese Student 10 December 2007

A 56 year-old man has been given a five year sentence for his role in what Judge Tony Hunt at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court called "a crime motivated by xenophobia and racism".

Thomas Atkinson of Kildare Park, Crumlin was part of a mob that forced their way into a neighbour’s house and beat up a Chinese student because they wrongly believed he had abused two girls as a result of a false claim by one of them that they were held there against their will.

The mob forced their way past the house owner and cornered the then 23-year-old Mr Ailikanu Helili in her kitchen after earlier telling her they wanted to see "the f***ing Chinese student" and that she "shouldn’t have foreigners" in her home.

Atkinson was found guilty by a jury in October of assault, aggravated burglary, possession of a dangerous implement and violent disorder on March 12, 2006. He had no previous convictions.

Judge Hunt said he didn’t agree with a defence suggestion that the attack wasn’t racially motivated, and also noted with concern reports that the house owner, Ms Rosaleen Hickey, had been forced to move out her home of 22 years following the incident and had been "shadowed" when she did this.

During the hearing, Daniel Fagan, a relative of one of the other men also involved in the incident, was ordered to be brought back by Judge Hunt after he abruptly left the courtroom, muttering inaudible comments, and slammed the door behind him.

When Judge Hunt told him to remain in court and that he would deal with him afterwards, Fagan said he left because "I couldn’t listen to any more of our lies" to which the judge replied: "I could say the same about you Mr Fagan in your evidence at the trial."

Garda Eamon Maloney told prosecuting counsel, Mr Dominic McGinn BL, that when the house owner, Ms Hickey opened her door to the mob she told them to see the gardaí if they had a problem but they returned soon after and forced their way past her into the kitchen.

They cornered Mr Helili and began kicking him and hitting him with a wooden baseball bat before Ms Hickey managed to pull them off and calm them down. The victim was taken to St James Hospital where he was treated for lacerations and bruising.

When Gda Maloney agreed with defence counsel, Mr Philip Rahn BL, that Mr Helili "realised the attack was a misunderstanding and was not racially motivated", Judge Hunt commented that he did not share that belief.

Judge Hunt said he rejected Atkinson’s claim that he was a "peacemaker" saying: "He did nothing to restrain the hotter headed young men in question and was involved in meeting out the most disgusting violence to Mr Helili."

Noting that Atkinson seemed to be "on the periphery of the assault" and suffers from polio syndrome Judge Hunt said he would recommend the prison authorities show him "as much mercy as possible" and suspended the last three years of the sentence.

When she jailed Daniel Fagan (aged 28) and Jason Atkinson (aged 32) both of Kildare Park, Crumlin on March 27 last for their roles in the crime, Judge Katherine Delahunt told them: "Your actions evoke memories of ‘lynch’ mobs and vigilantes. You took the matters into your own hands and hospitalised your victim without attempting to verify the veracity of the claims."

Det Gda Maloney told her then that it was accepted there was absolutely no truth in the girl’s claims.


Attacked Young Man Over False Paedophile Claims

Added to on March 14, 2007

Evening Herald, 13 March 2007 by Sonya McLean

[NOTE: This is the inevitable outcome of more than a decade's ranting about "paedophile priests" - a lynch mob attack on a Chinese student who is wrongly suspected of having molested two young girls. The article stresses that the attack "was not racially motivated". What is the point of this observation? Why is racial hatred considered less acceptable than the anti-clerical variety?]

Two men who forced their way into a neighbour's house and beat up a Chinese student who lived there, because they wrongly believed he abducted two nine-year old girls, have been remanded on bail pending sentence.

Daniel Fagan (28) and Jason Atkinson (32), both of Kildare Park, Crumlin, Dublin 12, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Mr Ailikamu Helili (now 23) and violent disorder in the house on March 12, 2007. Atkinson also admitted to trespass and possession of a wooden bat on the date.

Judge Katherine Delahunt said she had a number of testimonials to consider and adjourned the case to a date later this month.

Detective Garda Eamonn Maloney told prosecutor Garnet Orange that Mr Helili was making dinner when the two girls called to the house. They followed him into the house and he had no issue with this as they were frequent callers.

Some time later a number of neighbours arrived at the house having formed the opinion that "something untoward had happened". Six of them forced their way in, cornered Mr Helili and started to attack him.

The woman who owned the house later told Gardai that Mr Helili was hunched down while kicks and punches were thrown at him and he was beaten with a large wooden bat.

Atkinson, who used a bat during the assault, came down to the garda station by arrangement and expressed remorse for the incident but made no admissions.

Det Gda Maloney said the student still lives in Ireland and plans to stay here for four years. He now understands that the attack was not racially motivated.

Det Gda Maloney agreed with Atkinson's defence lawyer, Remy Farrell that "mass hysteria" developed after the two girls had gone missing for a number of hours and a suggestion was made that something "untoward had happened them".

It was accepted that there was absolutely no truth to this and that the girls may have said it themselves to cover up the fact that they hadn't reported back to their families that afternoon.

Det Gda Maloney agreed that Atkinson said during interview that it was "a shameful thing to do" and that if anything had happened the girls the right thing to do would be to report it to Gardai.

He accepted that Atkinson had a heroin addiction some time ago which led to his criminal convictions but that he has since turned his life around.

Det Gda Maloney agreed with Mr Bernard Condon BL., defending Fagan, that one of the girls told him she had been held in the house against her will. There was no truth in this but the story took on a life of its own.

Mr Farrell said the offence could be seen as an act of "vigilantism".

Mr Condon said Fagan accepted that he was entirely in the wrong to jump to such conclusions. He had Eur 500 in court as an expression of his remorse but Mr Condon said given more time he may be able to have more money before the court.

He said his reaction was completely out of character, considering his lack of previous convictions.