Sussex

Jay Abatan race killing witnesses sought 20 years on

Jay Abatan Image copyright Handout
Image caption Jay Abatan was punched in the face and hit his head on the pavement

Witnesses who saw a deadly attack on a man outside a Brighton nightclub two decades ago have still not come forward, his brother has said.

Michael Abatan has held a vigil outside Brighton police station on the anniversary of Jay Abatan's death in what he believes was a racist attack.

He said people close to the attackers "know exactly what happened".

Sussex Police have said officers are committed to investigating any significant new information.

Michael Abatan, the son of English and Nigerian parents, was attacked along with his brother and a friend following a row over a taxi as the Oceans Room nightclub was closing on 24 January 1999.

His 42-year-old brother, an Eastbourne accountant, fell after he was punched and fractured his skull on the pavement. The father-of-two died five days later.

Two men were accused of Jay Abatan's manslaughter but charges were dropped. They were cleared of assaulting Michael.

Mr Abatan said: "All the people that got hit that day were mixed race. No white people got hit."

Describing the attack as "vicious", he urged any witnesses wrestling with their consciences to come forward and "do the right thing".

Image caption Michael and Jay Abatan were both attacked outside Ocean Rooms nightclub in Brighton

Mr Abatan said he believed his family had been denied justice "due to our colour" and has previously criticised the police.

Over the years, the case has been compared to the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

But Sussex Police said the case had been recorded as racially-motivated and investigated as such.

A statement said: "There has never been any suggestion by the independent reviews or the coroner of institutional racism on the part of Sussex Police."

The inquiry was reviewed by the Avon and Somerset and Essex forces and the-then Independent Police Complaints Commission, which found the original investigation suffered from disorganisation and was not given sufficient resources.

Assistant chief constable Nick May said: "Sussex Police has accepted that mistakes were made during the initial investigation into the unlawful killing of Jay Abatan, and regret that nobody has been convicted of this cowardly attack."

Mr May said the force apologised publicly for failings in 1999 and current investigative practices were "vastly different".

He said senior detectives had met the family on a number of occasions.

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