Anger over killer’s jail sentence
by Sarah Smith, The Herald, 14 October 2010
The family of a Chinese take-away delivery driver who died after being punched by a teenager said justice had not been done after his killer was detained for five years.
Simon San, 40, died in August the day after John Reid, 16, punched him in the face, causing him to fall backwards and fracture his skull, resulting in serious brain damage.
Before the attack in Edinburgh, Mr San had been sitting in his car but got out after Reid and the gang he was with started rocking the vehicle.
Reid, from Edinburgh, who was already under a supervision order, was yesterday detained for five years at the High Court in Glasgow.
In a statement read by their lawyer outside the court, the victim’s father, Trieu San, and mother Kiet San, said: “The San family will never stop grieving for the loss of their much loved innocent son and brother Simon.
“Nothing will ever make up for Simon being taken from us, but today cannot be described as justice. We believe that John Reid is a mindless thug, whose random violence destroys families like ours every day in Scotland.”
They added: “The police said Simon was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was not – he had every right to be there, at his work, amongst the community of which he was a part.
“We believe that had he not been Chinese then he would not have been selected for special treatment by John Reid.”
Lord Matthews told Reid he and the gang he was with acted like “pack animals” and forced their victim backwards.
He said: “You delivered a blow to his face which pole-axed him.
“There is no doubt it was cowardly and not expected by Mr San, who had no opportunity to defend himself.
“This was not just a glancing blow in the context of a stand-up fight, but the culmination of serious aggression towards an innocent victim.
“You have had a troubled background and have been involved in offending behaviour resulting in your being made the subject of a supervision order. The consequences for you will be great but the consequences are insignificant when compared to the devastation you have wreaked on the lives of Mr San’s family, for whom he was not only a breadwinner but a source of constant love and support.”
Mr San’s family were in court to hear the verdict, assisted by an interpreter.
Reid pleaded guilty to the culpable homicide of Mr San at an earlier court appearance.
He admitted punching Mr San on the head in Lochend Road, Edinburgh on August 11, whereby he was so seriously injured that he died the following day in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
Reid’s lawyer, solicitor advocate Jim Stephenson, said his client took full responsibility for his actions.
He told the court: “He has expressed regret for his actions and the impact on the victim’s family. He has stated that his actions were not racially motivated.”
Lord Matthews told Reid that if the case had gone to trial and he had been found guilty he would have been jailed for seven and a half years.
In their statement Mr San’s family also said: “We believe that had the police acted the very first time that we requested help that Simon might still be here today.
“We have met with Lothian and Borders Police and are calling for a formal investigation into their officers.”
They added: “It is about time that the authorities stop treating the silence of a respectful and law-abiding Chinese community as a weakness.
“The voice of the voiceless must be heard, if there is to be any justice for Simon San.”
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “From the outset, the force carried out an intensive investigation and it was a priority to identify whoever was responsible for the violent, un-provoked attack, which resulted in the tragic death of Mr San.
“Lothian and Borders Police is aware of comments from Mr San’s family. A complaint has been received by the force and a senior officer has been appointed to investigate.
“We will deal directly with the family to address the issues they have raised. It would be inappropriate to comment further while this is in progress.”