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  1. ITV Report

Family of Polish man killed in possible hate crime 'extremely devastated'

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Angus Walker

The family of a Polish man killed in a possible hate crime told how they are "extremely devastated" by their loss as they paid tribute to him.

Arkadiusz Jozwik and another Polish man were set upon in what Essex Police believe was an unprovoked attack, outside a row of takeaway shops in Harlow.

Following the attack at around 11.35pm on Saturday night, the 40-year-old died from head injuries on Monday.

We are all extremely devastated at the sad loss of our brother, son and uncle Arek.

This is obviously a very difficult time for us as Arek was taken from us so suddenly and unexpectedly.

He was a hard-working man who love spending time with his family, specifically his nephew, with whom he loved to play table football.

He love I.T and strategic gaming and enjoyed life as a bachelor.

We now ask that we are left alone to grieve during this very difficult time and we ask for our privacy to be respected.

R.I.P Arek.

– A statement from the family of Arkadiusz Jozwik

Earlier on Wednesday Harlow MP Robert Halfon and Polish ambassador Arkady Rzegocki visited the scene of the attack.

Essex Police said that one line of investigation is that it was a hate crime.

Speaking at the scene Mr Halfon said that people who use the Brexit result to pursue their personal racist agendas "literally come from the sewers".

A 43-year-old man, who is also from Harlow, and was injured in the attack has been discharged from hospital after being treated for suspected hand fractures and bruising to his stomach.

Polish ambassador Arkady Rzegocki is accompanied by MP Robert Halfon as he lays flowers. Credit: ITV News

I believe that the vast majority of people who voted to leave the EU did for noble reasons.

I do have a view that a very small minority - and I stress that these kinds of awful things are done by a minority - it [the referendum] is being used by people who come from the sewers who want to exploit division and have their own racist agenda. They literally come from the sewers.

– Harlow MP Robert Halfon

Mr Rzegocki added that on the whole the experiences of Polish people in the UK were good, but added that there had been an increase in xenophobia following the EU referendum.

The ambassador added that a march of silence would be held on Saturday, and that now was the time for cooperation and support for Mr Jozwik's family and the community.

Following the Brexit vote there has been an increase in reported hate crimes, with them peaking the day after the referendum.

More than 3,000 hate crimes and incidents were reported to police forces around the country in the second half of June - an increase of 42% for the same period last year.

Harlow has one of the highest concentrations of EU nationals from eastern Europe - roughly one in 17 residents - of all local authorities in England and Wales.

Flowers left at the scene. Credit: ITV News

This investigation is in its early stages and there are a number of lines of enquiry that need to be considered and completed, and this will take time.

However, I want to stress that the motive behind this brutal attack remains unclear and there is no direct evidence at this time to say that this incident was racially motivated.

We are continuing to keep an open mind about the motive.

I am continuing to appeal for anyone who was in the area between 10pm and midnight on Saturday, August 27 to come forward, as any piece of information could be vital.

We understand there will be witnesses who were deeply shocked by what took place and we know they may find it hard to come forward

In the first instance, the important thing is to come forward and talk to us and to discuss the fears that you have. There are a number of measures that we can put in place to protect witnesses or alleviate the concerns you may have.

You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously if you are afraid to give your name or speak directly with us.

– Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Danny Stoten, of the Kent and Essex Crime Directorate

On Wednesday evening locals will gather at the scene of the attack to show solidarity with the Polish community.

Five 15-year-old boys and a 16-year-old have been arrested on suspicion of murder and released on police bail until October 7.

Anyone with information about assault is asked to contact the Harlow Major Investigation Team on 101. Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org