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A family torn apart by 'happy slapping'

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Guy Smith | 19:25 UK time, Monday, 26 July 2010

He was killed in front of his three-year-old granddaughter.

Ekram Haque, who was 67 and a retired care worker, was standing outside the local mosque in Tooting in August last year. He'd been there to pray because it was the Holy month of Ramadan.

CCTV was released by police of teenagers punching him. They run off as he falls backwards and his head hits the ground with such force, he never regains consciousness.

His granddaughter rushes to him but then is led away by some worshippers, who come out after the commotion.

It's a shocking case. We learn that the two teenagers sentenced today at the Old Bailey for a total of eight years for manslaughter were members of a so-called "happy slapping" gang.

Ekram Haque with his beloved step-daughter Jasmine TaylorDetectives seized half a dozen video clips where the teenagers had struck innocent bystanders and recorded it on their mobile phones. They then run off and you hear them laughing.

Well, Mr Haque's granddaughter Marian still suffers from nightmares. She says she misses "her papa". Mr Haque was her primary carer and his son Arfan, in a victim statement, said he was the best dad anyone could have.

I've just been contacted by his step-daughter Jasmine Taylor, who wanted me to publish a poem she wrote when he was in intensive care in hospital.

It's called "Prayer for My Father"

"Today I am arriving in spirit, for you
In my thoughts constantly I am trying to guide you through.
My prayers become stronger with each days that pass,
Amazing you are, these days will never be the last.
Come back to our world, God may you give life back
Days filled with grief, guide me out of the black.
My father, my uncle, my life and my heart
Open your eyes and recovery start.
Sending you my love and everything with it
You gave me your love and now I may give it
Just in case I never told you before,
You are my father, you were the cure.
Love divine and God speed, bring back the man we all do need
Your work is not done, there are years to be had
Your babies are waiting please do not make us so sad.
Open your eyes and recovery start
This world is nothing without you, how can we live without our heart?"

Hospital doctors turned his life support machine off a week later.

Have you been the victim of happy slapping? What are teenagers like in your area? Are young people being demonised by the media? Please let me know here.


  • Comment number 1.

    wow - London kids are really out of control... I have been living here for three years and I'm constantly shocked. Society is too accepting of these delinquents, police are too soft on them and their parents too selfish. These guys should do at least 10 years behind bars..

  • Comment number 2.

    Yet another case of children acting like pack dogs. Who brought these children up ? Their parents have let them down, and the judge let the victim's family down. Whether they meant to kill or not, he was murdered and these 'children' should face life sentences. They'll be out in 5 years brutalized and more dangerous. If they languished in jail for life you can be sure 'happy slapping' wouldn't seem such a good idea. Kids need sanctions. What we are seeing is lord of the flies made real.

  • Comment number 3.

    I have never been happy slapped, thank God, but I sympathise with anyone who has had the sheer misfortune to be going about their lives, completely minding their own business, and been wacked by some total idiot for absolutely no reason at all. It truly does beggar belief that we have kids who are running round the streets hitting people and running away in the name of 'fun'. When I was growing up I would never have dreamt of doing this.

    You could try to explain to them that they are cowards and that what they are doing is not funny at all, but unfortunately they are far, far too stupid to take that on board.

    What we have is a generation of kids who don't care. They have no aspirations, no hopes or dreams, terrible parents and terrible lives. So they grow up not caring, and feel they can do whatever they want. This is how things like this come about, because they don't care about other people and they don't care about the consequences. I would wager that these two don't care at all that this man died because of their brutality.

    Teenagers in my area of Poplar, east London, where I have lived my whole life, are generally annoying. And no, before anyone says it, I KNOW all teenagers aren't the same etc but a lot of them are horrible. They're intimidating to walk past (Oh, how brave one must feel when in a 15-strong gang hurling insults at passers-by), they're rude, egotistical, self-absorbed and stupid. They make having to go to the shop at 7pm a more troubling thought than it ever, ever should be. They make it a necessity to turn off your mp3 player at night when walking past so you can hear if they are following you.

    They are utterly hopeless and they don't even know it. They have no chance of getting a decent job, their eduction means they can barely read or write, they have no social graces, and are completely selfish. The only happiness they get is signing the giro, shouting insults at people like me who are on their way to work to pay the taxes that make up their benefits, and doing stupid things like happy slapping.

  • Comment number 4.

    The police can't win on this one. They are either seen as too soft on criminals or coming down too harshly. The stark reality is that it is our justice system that is far too lenient. There is always some pathetic excuse for the appalling behaviour. I grew up in a working class area of London-Islington as it used to be-not the Islington it is now. We would NEVER have considered doing this to anyone. A lot of that is to do with respect for others but also a fear of the wrath of our parents and relatives and the shame of being in trouble with the police. And no dogooders when I say wrath I do not mean being smacked or anything remotely like that. A great deal has a lot to do with lack of parental control or disinterest now and at the risk of sounding very old, the fact that children are in effect being bought up by parents who arent really that much older than themselves.

  • Comment number 5.

    It may help if we stopped using the term Happy Slapping. This is nothing less than assault. Civilisation is crumbling around us yet we do nothing; we live in a society where people like this know their rights but are blissfully ignorant of their responsibilities.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ekram Haque was my stepfather. My family and I feel the sentencing was incredibly lenient and fear that it has sent out the wrong message to other gangs.
    What those silly boys did was thoughtless and stupid and whether or not they meant to kill him, they did and he is dead, so for that they should pay the appropriate price, the same as we have to pay everyday for a life without him.
    These kinds of incidents will continue to happen as the gang members will not have been put off by the prospect of only 15 months in jail, if it all goes wrong (and the victim dies), it's pathetic, if the world is changing then the laws need to change also!

  • Comment number 7.

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