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UK teenagers plead guilty to killing Indian sailor
Prasun Sonwalkar in London | February 24, 2009 16:46 IST
Three British teenagers have pleaded guilty to the sensational killing of an Indian sailor in a racially motivated attack on a ship in the United Kingdom in October 2007. Gregory Fernandes, 32, was set upon by a group of teenagers who boasted that they wanted to 'beat a Paki' when they saw him and his colleague, Vinod P, return to their ship near Southamton after a drink in a local hotel in Fawley.
In the incident that made headlines in UK and in India, the two were attacked by the group until a passerby rescued Fernandes and took him to nearby docks, where he collapsed and died. Vinod, 29, suffered a broken collar bone.
At the Winchester Crown Court on Monday, the three teenagers, Stephen Pritchard, Daniel Rogers, and Chay Fields, admitted to manslaughter.
They also pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on Vinod. Two other 15-year-old boys from Fawley, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, also admitted causing grievous bodily harm to and assaulting Vinod. Justice Royce adjourned the case and ordered pre-sentence reports on all five, who will be sentenced in March.
The three teenagers who admitted killing Fernandes were remanded in custody and the other two were granted bail.
"Mr Fernandes suffered heart failure brought on by the stress of the attack. He was having a drink and then a takeaway and there were lots of youths hanging around who had been drinking. Some part of that group chased him and his friend up the road and set upon him," Detective inspector Dave Dilly of Hampshire police said.
"A member of the public, Jody Miles, intervened and rescued Mr Fernandes, put him in his car and drove him to the Fawley refinery. He then went back to help Mr Vinod. But within seconds of being dropped off at the front gate, Mr Fernandes dropped down dead from heart failure brought on by the attack. "There was evidence that some of [the defendants], prior to setting eyes on Mr Fernandes, were saying they wanted to beat up a 'Paki' - that was the sort of language being used," he added.
Nigel Pascoe, prosecuting lawyer, said the attack did not severely injure Fernandes who suffered only a broken tooth, but the pleas indicated the 'very serious responsibility' of the trio in the death of the sailor.
They had faced a murder charge, which they had denied, and the prosecution accepted the lesser count.
Floriano Fernandes, the sailor's father, told BBC, "Now, since this has happened, we are now financially very run down - we have lost our breadwinner. Even I've been in England [Images], so many places, but it wasn't like this before. I felt very safe, but now it seems to be a very unsafe place, especially for Indians.