Teenager to be charged in connection with attack on young Syrian refugee

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A 16-year-old boy will appear in court in connection with an attack on a young Syrian refugee which was filmed and shared on social media, police have said.

West Yorkshire Police said the teenager has been interviewed and reported for summons for an offence of assault.

Officers said he will appear before a youth court “in due course”.

The boy was questioned by police over the footage in which the 15-year-old victim, whose arm is in a sling, is thrown to the ground and threatened with drowning.

The video has been widely shared online, provoking outrage and prompting wellwishers to set up an online crowdfunding page for the victim which received £50,000 in donations in the space of a day.

The incident happened last month at Almondbury Community School, in Huddersfield, last month.

In a statement, West Yorkshire Police said: “The incident occurred on October 25 this year and has been subject to thorough investigation since it was reported to us the day after. The victim and his family are receiving ongoing support from police and other agencies.”

The statement added: “Safeguarding measures have been put in place for the victim and his family.

“A previous unconnected incident on ctober 7, in which the victim suffered a wrist injury, was also fully investigated at the time.

“Three youths were interviewed. There was no further police action and the matter was referred to the school.”

The victim is seen in the video being dragged to the floor by his neck before his attacker says: “I’ll drown you”, while forcing water from a bottle into his mouth.

The alleged perpetrator has been the subject of hundreds of violent threats online.

A Facebook account believed to belong to the boy features numerous posts shared from the page of English Defence League founder Robinson, a convicted fraudster whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.

One of those posts, apparently referencing comments by Boris Johnson about Muslim women wearing veils, read: “Should Britain ban letterboxes because of all the trouble they’re causing?”

Robinson was jailed for contempt of court earlier this year after posting videos about a child grooming trial involving a group of Asian men from Huddersfield. He was later freed on appeal.

Mohammed Tahir, who set up the crowdfunding page for the bullying victim, said he had been overwhelmed by the support it had received.

He said: “I can’t thank everyone enough for the generous donations they have made. I am working alongside GoFundMe so we can make sure every last penny gets to the family and I want to thank them for their support.”

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said the video of the assault against one of his constituents was “absolutely shocking”.

He tweeted: “Have been supporting the family since it was first brought to my attention.

“Understand from council that the school have taken strong action. Will be following up to ensure all available support is being given!”

In a letter to parents on Wednesday, Almondbury Community School headteacher Trevor Bowen said: “The safety and welfare of students is our number one priority and I can assure you that this situation is being taken extremely seriously.”

Mr Bowen said: “Since the incident occurred in October, the school, the local authority and the police have all taken action. We must allow the legal process to take its course, but I want to be absolutely clear that we do not tolerate unacceptable behaviour of any sort in our school.

“I can also assure you that we are working very hard to ensure it is ‘business as usual’ across the school and that there is no disruption to the children’s education.”

Dr Lisa Doyle, Director of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, said: “We are utterly shocked and appalled by the attack on a 15-year-old boy who came to the UK in search of safety.

“The idea that someone escapes war and brutality, only to be met with violence here, is truly awful. We have been heartened by the fantastic outpouring of support from many members of the British public who are sending a clear message that nobody in our community should be treated in this way.”

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