|Francesco Hounye the victim.|
Tower Hamlets police believe the man from Florida was targeted simply because he was “obviously not local”. The detailed footage clearly shows five Asian men (Bengali-Muslims of local Sharia-patrol) setting upon Francesco Hounye, 22, who had only arrived in the UK three days earlier.
They smashed a bottle into his face and then chased after him to continue their assault, repeatedly kicking and punching him. The attack happened in the early hours of June 17 in Commercial Road, Whitechapel about 15 metres east from the junction with New Road.
The victim had been out for the night in the Brick Lane area with his 23-year-old friend, who he was staying with while in the UK. CCTV footage shows them being followed by a number of Asian men as they walked back to the friend’s home in Shadwell and a confrontation beginning.
It is not clear what was said but the exchange became heated and the suspects threatening and aggressive. One of the suspects grabbed a bottle the victim was drinking from and smashed it against his face. The group pursued the victim as he ran across the road to escape. They chased after him and continued to beat him before making off.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Ben Mott, said: “We believe the suspects picked a fight with the victim as he was obviously not from the local area and they took exception to the fact that he was a bit different. The victim has an Italian accent, his own style of dress and mannerisms and, when challenged by the Asian males, answered them back.
“They retaliated by grabbing the bottle and launching a vicious attack that has left him scarred for life. He had come to the UK to enhance his studies and has been left so shocked and horrified by what happened that he feels unsafe and is unsure if he wants to stay here.
“The CCTV footage is exceptionally clear and I believe the suspects to be local. I would ask people to please look closely at the faces of the attackers and help us identify them. I am positive someone would know who they are from looking at the footage.”
Francesco said in a statement to police: “As a result of this incident I am now scared to go out on my own in London. I am a visitor to the UK and was considering continuing my studies here but this incident has made me think twice.
The suspects are described as Asian and aged in their late teens to early 20s. They are possibly Bengali-Muslims. The man who used the bottle was wearing a red and white striped short-sleeved top with black trousers, white trainers and a large watch.