Sentinel leader column: Violent end to grim night
THE inquest into the death of Israr Ellahi presents an appalling snapshot of violence and drunkenness on a summer's night in Stoke-on-Trent. The disturbance which led to Mr Ellahi's death was one of several which happened within 60 minutes in a small part of the city. Strikingly, it seems many of those involved in the different incidents were either actively looking for trouble, or willing to engage in violence if the opportunity arose. Mr Ellahi's death is a tragedy to his family and friends, but it cannot be said he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Indeed, it seems the mischance of sustaining a fatal head injury from a fist fight could just as easily have befallen many of the others prowling Tunstall on the night in question.
It is unfortunate that all the legal processes surrounding Mr Ellahi's death have taken 30 months to conclude; that a manslaughter prosecution against the man who threw the crucial punch was abandoned because of the death of a witness; and that the role of Staffordshire Police was called into question. It must also be remembered that the fatal confrontation was not a meeting of strangers: that the group facing the deceased contained the brother of the mother of two of Mr Ellahi's children. But when many of the facts in sensitive cases are sub judice for prolonged periods there is always a danger that rumour and suggestion may cloud the issues. Yesterday's inquest, and the announcement by the Independent Police Complaints Commission that Staffordshire officers did not allow the victim's race or religion to influence their behaviour, draw an official line under Mr Ellahi's death. But one cannot help pondering the state of our society when violent groups hang around residential areas, ready to deal in casual violence which has such deadly consequences.