East London Advertiser, May 3, 2006
A man whose head was sliced open with a machete by a racist mob as he tried to protect two young women has been left paralysed down one side.
Tower Hamlets police say the gang attack is being treated as racially motivated.
John Payne, 33, a construction superviser for South Quay-based company Construction Resources Ltd, and two friends were viciously set upon by a gang of Asian youths wielding machetes and metal bars in Stepney on April 8.
At around 11.30 pm that night, John was walking two young female friends home after an evening out. The trouble started when John, friends Sarah O’Leary and Jenny Curran, both 21, and Jenny’s brother Denny, 19, who also works for Construction Resources Ltd, turned into the car park of Dagobert House, off Jamaica Street.
Det Con McCullogh of Tower Hamlets police said that a gang of between six and nine Asian youths, aged between 16 and 20, were waiting in the car park.
They shouted racist insults at John and his friends, who told them to be quiet. They were then set upon by the gang, which swelled to a mob of 20 as other Asian youths rushed to join in the beating.
Despite John and Denny’s attempts to protect her, Jenny was repeatedly punched and kicked, and struck on the head with a metal pole.
Denny and John were both hacked around the head with machetes, leaving John with a deep wound.
Sarah O’Leary was the only member of the group who was uninjured, and was therefore able to call the police.
John was taken to intensive care at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.
He is now paralysed down one side of his body, and has slurred speech and memory loss. He has regained some movement, but it is still uncertain whether he will be able to work again.
“We are treating this as a racist attack because of the language used by the suspects,” said DC McCollogh.
Five men were arrested at the scene of the attack. All have been bailed without charge pending further inquiries.