Published: 19 February 2010
by CHARLOTTE CHAMBERS
THIRTEEN days after he was stabbed in the face simply for being black, Michael Olunleye is finding it surprisingly easy to smile.
Surprising not just because the knife severed a muscle in his cheek, and has made it difficult for him to eat his favourite food – burgers – but because he has come to terms with the unprovoked attack by a driver in daylight outside the Emirates Stadium in Highbury.
“The guy who did this is a loser,” he said, speaking from his Kilburn home this week. For two days, he couldn’t open his mouth more than an inch or eat solid food. Antibiotics taken to treat the massive swelling to his cheek caused by a surge of white blood cells made him throw up.
Mr Olunleye, 29, said: “Racism doesn’t pay. These people hide at the back of the crowd, they’re not heroes. From the outcomes here, I haven’t lost a thing. This just makes me more determined to lead a positive life. My confidence is even more increased.
“I was in hospital for about three hours getting surgery. They did a great job. Within two days the cut had faded. Because there are no scars there’s nothing that will keep reminding me.”
The painter and decorator said his attacker needed to be turned in by friends and family. The driver swore and spat at Mr Olunleye in front of two children, sitting in the passenger seat of the car. He then got out of the car to carry out the unprovoked attack.
“His daughter was screaming in the back,” said Mr Olunleye, a father-of-two. “She was only about two years old. This guy’s not only a threat to his own family, he’s not fit to be a dad.
“Although the racial motivation of the attack really upset me – he was basing the attack on the fact he felt he’s got something to prove – but really I feel much more sorry for his kids who witnessed it.”
Police have issued CCTV footage of the silver A-class Mercedes driven by the attacker and images of Mr Olunleye clutching a bloodied cloth to his face in the immediate aftermath of the stabbing.
The driver was stocky, about 5ft 6in tall and spoke with a northern accent. He is in his late 20s with short dark hair, and was wearing blue jeans and a blue or dark coloured bomber-type jacket.
The February 6 attack took place after Mr Olunleye crossed a zebra crossing in Benwell Road, and heard the suspect shout “you f***ing black c**t” at him. He swore back and walked away, only to be confronted by the driver two minutes later when he appeared from behind a van. He swung at Mr Olunleye, who then gave chase before realising he had been stabbed.
Detective Sergeant Tony Quinlan, investigating, said: “This was a vicious attack carried out for no apparent reason. We treat all stabbings very seriously and especially those which are racially aggravated.”
Mr Olunleye said that, while friends of his had encouraged him to seek retaliation, that was the last thing on his mind.
“All that will bring is more hatred and violence,” he said. “I haven’t been scarred for life. The only thing that needs to be done is to get him to justice.” Anyone with information can call the community safety unit on 020 7421 0175 or anonymously on 0800 555 111.