I AM writing to offer a considered comment in response to your various reports of the tragic events, when the cabbie taking the five youths from Camden to Ruislip was critically injured (Cabbie critical as five charged, Ruislip and Eastcote Gazette, March 23).
Together with the rest of Ruislip, my thoughts and prayers have been with him, his family and with all of those affected and caught up in this, ever since.
I certainly do not condone violence or aggression in any circumstances but do have serious issue with the reporting and potential consequences of the ensuing comments.
The reaction precipitated by the coverage has been very disturbing. You were right to (eventually) remove the facility to comment on the story online because, understandably, emotions run high when something like this happens, but the venting was not always well considered or moderated by the posters - they do not think before they post comments, and this risks creating significant prejudice based on hearsay.
As a result of this reporting, and assumptions made about 'what must have happened' for such a crime to occur, there followed a hysterical and very abusive vent of comments.
A tirade directed towards the named accused and their families and equally frenzied and often rather illiterate and childlike retorts.
While it does appear to anyone who goes out anywhere after dark that there are mobs of youths tramping round our streets in the small hours, looking for trouble and beyond the control of their parents, and with whom it is certainly better not to engage in eye contact, it is perfectly possible that this group of youths were not one of those.
We have no idea what actually happened here and very regrettably the cab driver's account may never be heard.
My point is, we do not know what happened. The youths are accused, but they have not been tried and should not be judged by anyone until the facts are gathered and the accounts considered - and in an environment where independent jurors decide.
Trial by newspaper and internet is not permitted in this country, and as Ruislip is a relatively small place, these families are entitled to privacy and consideration at this terrible time, as well as the victim and his.
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