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Man guilty of racial assault on teenager in Skipton Woods
12:00pm Thursday 7th February 2013 in News
A 22-year-old has been found guilty of a racially aggravated assault on a 17-year-old in Skipton Woods.
Stephan Kelly, who was on a suspended prison sentence at the time, admitted assault by beating, but denied using any racist language.
But witness Peter Hall, who was walking in the popular beauty spot at the time with his family, told Skipton Magistrates Court Kelly had specifically used abusive racist language.
Asked by Kelly’s solicitor Tahir Hanif whether he might have been mistaken, Mr Hall said he might have been mistaken by some of the words, but not the specific racist language.
“I am not mistaken, it was the use of the words that I made the connection with the Asian youth that I had just seen,” he said. The court heard last Wednesday that the 17-year-old and his 13-year-old friend had gone to the woods next to Skipton Castle on the afternoon of September 22 with the intention of having a picnic.
While they were there, they passed Kelly, who was there with his step-sister and friend Anthony Beck.
Kelly, who had been drinking heavily and later told police he could remember nothing of the incident because he was so drunk, asked the 17-year-old whether he knew anyone who “sold weed”, the court was told.
Prosecuting, Hilary Reece said the 17-year-old replied that he did not, but that Kelly had followed him and punched him once in the face, knocking him to the floor.
Mr Hall told the court that the 17-year-old had stopped briefly and asked for help, but that his immediate concern was for his daughter and her young family. He had then heard Kelly, who was a short distance ahead, triumphantly tell his two colleagues how he had hit the 17-year-old, using the abusive and racist language.
“He was triumphant, it was like he had made a major achievement, which was worrying.
“We were a little concerned that we would be targets,” he said.
Kelly’s friend, Anthony Beck, told the court that Kelly had already been drinking before they had met.
He said it was a nice day, there were lots of people about and Kelly had told him he had “smacked an Asian guy”, but he struggled to remember details because of the length of time that had passed.
Defence solicitor Mr Hanif said Mr Hall must have been mistaken and added that Mr Hall’s daughter had not reported hearing the same language, and nor had Mr Beck. But Mrs Reece, in her summing up, said Mr Hall was unshakable on what he had heard and had been specific in the use of racially abusive words.
Magistrates found Kelly, of Oswald Street, Shipley, guilty.
They said Mr Hall’s evidence had been clear and precise, while Mr Beck had struggled to remember details and had to be prompted.
They added there had been no evidence from Kelly’s step-sister and that Kelly himself had declined to speak on the grounds that he couldn’t remember anything.
Kelly, in breach of a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years imposed by Bradford Crown Court for a racially aggravated public order offence and criminal damage, was committed to the crown court for sentencing.