Two teens who beat a Jewish teenager so badly he spent four days in a coma have been locked up by Manchester Magistrates Court, but only after a judge made clear the attack was not a hate crime.
Joseph Kelly and Zach Birch, both 17, laid into Moshe Fuerst and friends at a tram station in north Manchester last month, after drinking heavily. They were arrested shortly after and later admitted causing grievous bodily harm.
Fuerst was knocked unconscious after being chased to a nearby road. He suffered a fractured skull in the assault and clinicians had to put him into a medically-induced coma. His parents later published photos of his horrific injuries. Two of his 18-year old friends were also treated for minor injuries.
Kelly, who kicked Fuerst as he lay on the ground, was sentenced to 18 months in a juvenile detention facility, while Birch got 12. The boys’ parents broke down in court as they were led away. Convicts under the age of 18 are not typically named, but reporting restrictions were lifted after a Manchester newspaper won an exemption.
District Judge James Prowse, who said “public interest considerably outweighs the need for anonymity,” also said the attack was not a hate crime. “These lads were not attacked because they were Jewish, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and came across you two,” said Prowse, sentencing.
“It was a one-off incident. They cannot remember what they did because of the amount of alcohol they had. It was an alcohol-fuelled, vicious attack. One of the boys is very lucky not to have lost his life.”
Chief Superintendent Wasim Chaudhry echoed the judge, saying: “At the start of this investigation Greater Manchester Police recorded this as a hate crime and investigated it as such. However, after our experienced detectives and senior figures within the Crown Prosecution Service examined the evidence closely, it was decided that this assault did not meet the threshold to be treated as a racially aggravated crime. That, however, takes nothing away from the severity of the incident.”