Four men were jailed today for the brutal attack on a religious studies teacher in Tower Hamlets. A fifth man was jailed for hiding the attackers’ blood-stained clothes. The court heard that the assault on Gary Smith was premeditated and carried out because the men did not approve of his teaching. Akmol Hussain, 26, Azad Hussein, 26, Simon Alam, 19 and Sheikh Mohammed Meraj Rashid, 27, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent at an earlier hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
The men used a knife, a brick and a metal rod for weapons as they kicked and hit the teacher repeatedly in the stomach, head and face underneath the railway arches in Burdett Road as he was on his way to work on 12 July 2010. Mr Smith was then cut from his ear to his mouth leaving a permanent scar. He also suffered a broken skull, bleeding in the brain and a broken jaw.
A fifth man, Badruzzuh Udin aged 24, was jailed for two years for hiding some of the blood-stained clothes of the offenders after the attack.
Judge John Hand QC said to the four men responsible for the violence:
Your belief is that you carried out a duty to your God and you did so with no mercy. If you think that people around you in society present an insult or threat to God then you will not hesitate in attacking again in the way that you have acted.
The judge advised:
If you do not approve of particular teaching then recourse can be had with the employer, with the local education authority, or the school governors, or to the headteacher. There are no doubt other avenues by which dissatisfaction with teaching can be addressed.
An audio device had been fitted to Akmol Hussain’s car which subsequently recorded the four attackers discussing and boasting about the violent assault. The police were unaware that the attack was going to take place. The material used in the prosecution was only obtained after the event.
Akmol Hussain was recorded saying:
I turned and hit him on the face with the rod and he went flying and fell on his stomach….then Salman got this and hit him hard on his shoulders.
The device also recorded the four men planning the attack. However, the police only got hold of the recordings after the assault took place so were unaware that it was being planned.
On 18th of June 2010, the recording picked up Akmol Hussain explaining why he dissagreed with Mr Smith’s teaching:
…he’s mocking Islam and he’s putting doubts in people’s minds…How can somebody take a job to teach Islam when they’re not even a Muslim themselves?
The defendants also told the court that they had been motivated by rumours that the teacher had been involved in innapropriate behaviour. These rumours were subsequently proven to be untrue and unfounded.
Superintendent Colin Morgan, of MPS Tower Hamlets borough, said:
I know that the community of east London has been shocked by this vicious assault on a valued and highly respected teacher.
This was an unprovoked and premeditated attack by a group of men who were carrying weapons. Mr Smith was struck without warning, and was subjected to an appalling level of violence with no opportunity to defend himself.
I hope that today’s sentence will bring some reassurance to those affected by this assault that police will not tolerate this type of behaviour.
All four men who carried out the assault have been sentenced to serve at least 5 years each in prison.
The court heard that the victim cannot remember anything of the assault and has problems with his memory. The judge observed that he is:
unable to enjoy life and lives in constant fear of being attacked again.