With a UK court declaring him innocent of all charges, a first-hand account of the incident that brought assault accusations against British student Sidney Chan has emerged online, contradicting previous stories published by mainstream news media.
On November 25th, a jury unanimously found 20-year-old Chan to be not guilty of wounding with intent, thereby concluding a trial that depicted Chan as an aggressor who had viciously kicked his helpless victim twice in the face.
Infamously, Chan, a university rugby player, was said to have been enraged after the victim, fellow university student Stephen Kent, called him a “chink.” Prosecutor Paul Fairley told the court that Kent had been “provoked” into the racial slur after Chan had mocked his 1980s-style mullet haircut.
During the trial, Fairley argued there was “no justification” for Chan to kick Kent in the face after Kent had fallen down, especially when CCTV camera footage showed Chan’s friends had tried to restrain him. Fairley even pointed out that Chan was “eager” to engage Kent in a physical confrontation even though Chan claimed that he was “being assaulted” and felt “frightened.”
Kent suffered a fractured nose, a fractured eye socket, and a heavy concussion from his fight with Chan. The prosecutor alleged that much of that damage was done when Chan kicked Kent in the face while he was defenseless on the ground. However, because of a vehicle in the way, security footage does not actually show that any kick occurred.
With Chan’s innocence established by a court of law, a witness to the March 2016 incident has since come forward and said that Chan had been wrongly accused as the perpetrator when he was in fact the victim of a racist attack.
Matthias Lee-Hifler, a friend and fellow student of Chan’s at London Imperial College, said that Chan was the target of numerous racist insults from Kent, a man whom none of them had ever met before.
Chan, Lee-Hifler, and a group of friends (all of Southeast Asian descent) were going home after a night of partying at Imperial College Union bar when they suddenly encountered Kent. Last week, Lee-Hifler told British-Chinese culture media website Neehao that:
On the way home, we passed by the Royal Albert Hall. A stranger who we now know as “Mr Stephen Kent” (a white caucasian male) then started racially abusing all of us stating “You fucking chinks!” “You Communist cunt,” “I’ll do your fucking head in!” “Fuck off back to China.”
Lee-Hifler said that the group tried to ignore Kent and get away from him. However, Kent persisted in following the group down the length of the street while continuing to direct his attacks towards Chan.
Unlike the UK prosecutor’s version of the incident, Lee-Hifler said that Kent was the aggressor and that Chan had only acted when the safety of a woman was threatened:
At the end of the road, Mr Kent rushed towards us and we tried to calm the situation down and asked Mr Kent to leave. At this point, he pushed me away and grabbed our female friend and started to make sexually aggressive remarks about her. Sidney than pushed Mr Kent away from his lady friend. Mr Kent got very frustrated and started racially abusing us again and threw a punch at Sidney. Sidney then decided to take the necessary steps to defend himself and his friends.
Lee-Hifler also said that he and other members of the group were the ones to provide medical attention to Kent, whom he refers to as a “white supremacist.” And even though the “brawl” only lasted “30-60 seconds,” Lee-Hifler stayed long afterwards with Kent until medical and police services arrived, to whom he provided his account of the incident.
Lee-Hifler said that mainstream news media like the Daily Mail had reported the story wrong:
Never did Sidney kick Mr Kent’s head twice as he was laying unconscious and defenceless as this would not have been in his character to do so. The Daily Mail has completely twisted the story suggesting we might have made fun of Mr Kent’s hairstyle (which never happened).
The Daily Mail has since updated its story on Sidney Chan, adding that Chan was “acting in self-defense” and has been cleared of all criminal charges.
By Charles Liu
[Images via Yomyomf]
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