The cancer of impunity

Imagine that:

  • you are sitting 2 metres from someone who killed a good friend of yours;
  • a miracle saved you from meeting the same end as your friend;
  • the Crime Prosecution Service has decided not to prosecute the killer;
  • the killer has spent the last half hour lying to his teeth, even denying that he was aware that he killed your friend and severely injured you;
  • you see video footage of the killing, showing in stark clarity the lies of the killer.

What do you do?

Few people will blame Corneille Massengo who, at the moment he watched himself and his friend Osman fly up in the air after being hit by a car driven by Zanah Mohamed, jumped on him showering him with punches, soon followed by eight of his friends.

This is what happens when the Justice System fails; it is a failure at different levels.

The Inquest to the killing of Osman Ebrahim was adjourned after the punch-up, so we have not heard the details of the Police investigation. We do know however:

  • Osman and Corneille were crossing Old Street at 4:20, after leaving the Aquarium Club. The killer had an unimpeded view of them, did not slow down before impact and fled after the two young men were thrown 2 metres up in the air.
  • All independent witnesses have stated that in their view the car was being driven at an excessive speed. It is our understanding that it actually was driven at 50kph.
  • The CPS decided not to prosecute the killer going against the recommendation of the Police.
  • There is a general issue with speeding drivers in the early hours of the morning in the Old Street area, especially between 2:00-4:00 when people leave clubs. Bouncers have stated that some people use the area as a race track.
  • The killer, after leaving the Aquarium, went to retrieve his car and then parked it in front of the club, with music blaring, to pick up his two drunk friends. He sat on the bonnet and was acting like a prat, and then proceeded to do one or more laps of the above mentioned race track; it was during one of these laps that he killed Osman.
  • The killer was apprehended, together with the two passengers, the day after

We can only guess at the warped logic of the CPS for not prosecuting the killer. It is actually probably very basic: “The killer did not break the speed limit, so we cannot win in court”.

The Coroner, Mary Hassell was unhappy that this case was being heard in her court and not at a Criminal Court. Probably her desire to put a light on the odious behaviour of the three people in the car on the night and ever since, led her to forget to warn them that they had a right to refuse to answer her questions if they felt that a truthful answer would incriminate them.

Hassell was so disgusted by the evident contradictions in what the two passengers said under oath, that my feeling was that she intended to charge them for contempt.

Sitting at the audience benches one could feel the tension rising; the killer was then called to the witness box. Amongst the lies he said was that a taxi parked in front of the Aquarium, pulled out just in front of him, thus hiding the view of the two pedestrians. It was at this point that the Coroner decided to show the CCTV footage, which would discredit the testimony. The killer stepped out of the witness box, and sat on a bench, just below the Coroner. Corneille moved from the rear of the room to the same bench, to have a better view, for the first time, of the moment he nearly died.

It was a perfect set-up for a showdown. The 20 sec. video rolled and the audience gasped when the car hits the two young men. But Corneille missed it and asked it to be run again. On the second showing, the clip was stopped when the car came into view (the taxi always stationary). Corneille followed it and then, at the top of the screen, saw himself and Osman fly in the air…

We wish Corneille well. We hope that he takes the Community Service sentence he will probably receive as an opportunity to channel his anger to constructive ways to improve the system that has failed him and Osman’s family so badly.

We are certainly glad that at last someone was able to teach a lesson to the scumbag who killed Osman, but that is not the way a modern society should design its justice system.

UPDATE 09.03.17 In the Evening Standard the Metropolitan Police is quoted as saying:

“Three men aged 21, 18, and 19 were arrested on the morning of March 29 after they handed themselves in at a police station. All three have since been released with no further action.

“A full investigation was conducted into the circumstances of the collision, led by detectives from the homicide and major crime command working alongside colleagues from the roads and transport policing command.

“A report was prepared for the Inner North London (St Pancras) coroner.”

We will provide an update when the Inquest resumes.

UPDATE 13.04.17 The Inquest resumed at the Old Bailey. Here is our report.

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