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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Relief for accused in UK Sikh turban attack case

Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times  London, January 29, 2014
First Published: 18:41 IST(29/1/2014) | Last Updated: 19:10 IST(29/1/2014)

Two men accused of kicking a Sikh lawyer's turban off in a religion-fuelled attack in London in April last year were on Wednesday cleared by a jury at the Old Bailey.

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Aravinth Kandasamy, 26, and his friend Luxmanan Mahendran, 27, were accused of assaulting Rashvinder Panesar as he made his way home from a meeting of the Society of Asian Lawyers, with wife Sundeep, also a lawyer.

It was alleged that they shouted 'let's kick his turban off' and 'kick it away' as they kicked and punched Panesar outside St Paul's Cathedral on April 26.

But after telling jurors they had acted in self-defence against Panesar, the pair was cleared of religiously aggravated assault. Kandasamy was cleared of the alternative count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm but the jury could not reach a verdict in relation to Mahendran.

The jury cleared Mahendran of assaulting Sundeep, when she tried to intervene in the brawl. Prosecutors will decide whether to pursue a retrial against Mahendran on the actual bodily harm charge next week.

Prosecutor Louis French told the court that the fight broke out when Panesar tried to hail a black cab, but instead became embroiled in a war of words in the street. Panesar's turban came off in the ensuing melee, and he suffered a fractured nose, a chipped tooth, and an injury to his knee.

Both men had denied all the charges against them.

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