A Mangerton man has been found guilty of viciously bashing a Wollongong taxi driver who came to the aid of three Muslim uni students under attack near Gwynneville’s Omar Mosque.
Abdul-Latif Abdul-Latif was left requiring surgery on a shattered knee cap after he was knocked to the ground and repeatedly assaulted by Bailey King and David Piper on the evening of January 20.
The court heard an intoxicated King confronted the student trio as they walked towards the mosque for evening prayers, asking them to “go running” with him.
One of the students, Said Sawwafi, said when he refused the request, King grabbed him around the neck and pushed him into a nearby retaining wall, leaving him with wrist and neck injuries.
Mr Abdul-Latif, who was sitting in his taxi outside the mosque, said noticed the altercation taking place and got out of his vehicle to approach the group, prompting King to run off.
However, Mr Abdul-Latif said King returned a short time later and the students identified him as their attacker.
He said King threw two punches at him before he was able to to pin the younger man’s arms behind his neck and hold him against a nearby vehicle. He said his next recollection was lying on the ground.
“I tried to get up but I couldn't feel my left leg,” he said. “I put my hand down to feel it and my finger went right through my knee cap.”
The students gave evidence in court on Monday that Piper had intervened in the melee, freeing King, and the pair then assaulted Mr Abdul-Latif together, repeatedly kicking him while he lay on the ground. They then fled the scene.
Police were contacted and King and Piper were arrested a short time later.
The two men were charged with assault offences and initially pleaded not guilty, however Piper struck a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to a lesser charge.
However, King maintained his innocence and challenged the allegations in a court hearing on Monday.
In finding King guilty of the assaults, Magistrate Mark Douglass described the case against the 21-year-old as “overwhelming”.
“I reject his evidence in his record of interview with police: it was vague, lacked details and … was competing against a tsunami of contradictory evidence,” he said.
He also rejected suggestions King was acting in self defence. He found the attacks were the actions of a drunk man and were not racially motivated
Outside court, Mr Abdul-Latif said he was happy with the result. When asked if he’d do the same thing again in hindsight, he replied “absolutely”.
King and Piper will be sentenced in October.