Judge warns of possible jail time after vicious attack involving seven punches left victim with a broken nose
A Crown Court judge has warned a second-year Oxford University law student that a prison term is likely following his conviction last week for attacking a woman in a nightclub.
A jury found that Abdulrahman Abdelsalam — 19 or 20 years old, depending on press reports — punched his victim seven times in her head and face. But while convicted of serious assault, Abdelsalam was acquitted of sexual assault charges.
Judge Patrick Eccles and the jury heard how Londoner Abdelsalam viciously assaulted Jeanne Marie Ryan in the university town’s Plush Lounge. Abdelsalam claimed he had been defending himself after having initially been pushed and threatened with a glass.
But the jury discounted his story, finding that he ruthlessly attacked Ryan, fracturing her nose in the process.
According to the Oxford Mail newspaper, during Crown submissions, prosecutor Jonathan Stone told the jury the victim was dancing at the club when she was allegedly groped from behind.
Stone said the woman responded by tipping a drink over Abdelsalam’s head, after which he repeatedly attacked her.
According to the newspaper report, Stone said Abdelsalam punched the victim on the nose, followed by “fairly swift punches to her face, which sent her tumbling to the floor”.
Ryan was reported to have said she feared for her life during the attack. She told Oxford University newspaper Cherwell that she and her friends had chosen the Plush Lounge “because it’s an LGBT club and we just wanted to dance with no hassle. Everyone who goes there thinks of it as a safe space — it’s great for dancing and not being bothered by guys.”
After the attack, Ryan posted a “no make up selfie” photograph on social media and as a result raised some £17,000 for the Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre.
While a conviction for serious assault will doubtless damage Abdelsalam’s chances of qualifying as a lawyer, it will not necessarily totally scupper a future legal career.
Relatively recently, Louise Woodward, the English nanny convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Boston, was on track to qualify as a solicitor before jacking in her training contract with an Oldham law firm.
And last year, Legal Cheek reported on the High Court overturning a Solicitors Regulation Authority decision barring a man convicted of murder in Grenada from taking a Legal Practice Course place.
Abdelsalam is scheduled to be sentenced on 23 July 2015.