Doctor 'racially abused and knocked out'
A doctor was knocked unconscious in a one-punch attack after being subjected to racial abuse in Belfast city centre, a court was told yesterday.
Jeevan Jayaprakash said he was set upon after standing up to offensive comments made towards him during a night out last December.
Storm Lane, a 24-year-old South African, denied a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The accused, from Florenceville Avenue in south Belfast, insisted he had not been violent and had not used offensive language.
But Dr Jayaprakash maintained he was attacked outside the Merchant Hotel on December 12 as he and a group of friends went to get a taxi. He claimed that as he walked past two men, he heard one say: "I hate those Pakis, I'm sick of those Pakis."
Recalling the alleged incident at Belfast Magistrates' Court, Mr Jayaprakash said he stopped and asked a man with a South African accent if he was referring to him.
"There weren't other people of colour about," Dr Jayaprakash explained.
He told how he then allegedly fell to the ground and briefly lost consciousness after being punched on the side of his face.
The strike caused bruising and swelling to his eyes and jaw.
District Judge Amanda Henderson heard Dr Jayaprakash had to undergo scans to rule out a brain injury.
Under cross-examination, the doctor accepted he could not be certain who made the alleged comments.
But he insisted: "I heard the words so clearly. I have had racial abuse in the past - it's something that pricks your ears up, it's very hurtful."
One of the friends with him on the night, an off-duty police officer, claimed that when the two men were challenged over the suspected remarks, one replied: "What are you, a Paki or a Muslim?"
The off-duty police officer told the court that he witnessed the punch and grabbed the attacker before letting him go so that he could check on Dr Jayaprakash.
The court heard onlookers were asked to contact police, but said they did not want to get involved.
Another friend claimed: "I can remember to this day the crack of the punch and Jeevan falling backwards like a tree falling. I remember the thud of his head hitting the ground."
Lane, a salesman, insisted he had not used racist language, did not even know what the term "Paki" meant and had just returned from holidaying with an Indian friend.
According to his account of what happened that night, he was challenged and confronted as he shared an unrelated joke with his friend.
Lane claimed he put up his hands to apologise for any offence, but stressed no remarks were directed at the victim.
At that stage, the defendant alleged, he was attacked by a man who choked him until he was close to passing out.
Eventually he was released when another man came over, he told the court.
Reserving judgment, Mrs Henderson said she had to decide whether the defendant inflicted the assault and, if so, whether it was aggravated by hostility.