On 13th March 2018 Ayou Deng a Sudanese mother of seven who hit and killed 13-year-old Jalal Yassine-Najaanger while he skateboarded to school one year earlier in Brookfield, Melbourne was only sentenced to 80 hours community service. Deng was not charged with culpable driving instead only charged with unlicensed driving and an unrelated assault. She showed no remorse throughout her court appearances and had previously attacked a Channel Seven news crew.
Jalal’s distraught mother Olivia Yassine has had to not only cope with the loss of her son but the fact the woman responsible for his death has not received a just sentence and is not even sorry. But this has inspired Olivia to take action and start the Justice for Jalal campaign. She wants to ensure what was happened to her can to never happen to anyone else and is calling for Jalal’s law, that new offences be created to avoid the legal loophole that occurred in this case: that of an unlawful road user causing death and unlawful road user causing injury.
The Justice for Jalal Facebook page stood at 2k likes at the time of Deng’s sentencing now has over 5k likes. Yesterday Olivia Yassine organised the Walk with Jalal protest which went from Victoria’s Tresurary Garden’s to the steps of Parliament House. There were blue shirts available to purchase for a gold coin donation as well as a temporary memorial for Jalal adorned with flowers.
It was attended by a diverse group of people who braved a wet Melbourne afternoon, after all, campaigning for justice for the mother of a boy who was killed should be a non-controversial cause. They chanted “Justice for Jalal’ and ‘victims lives matter’.
After receiving little support from politicians despite their recent tough on crime talk, yesterday leading the walk with Olivia was the Shadow Minister for Police and Corrections Liberal MLC Edward O’Donohue who later addressed the rally.
The attendees also heard from the father of Patrick Cronin Matt who was killed in a one-punch attack and has set up the Pat Cronin Foundation.
Then we heard from Olivia herself who was accompanied by two of her sons. Despite what she has been through this past year she was composed and spoke from the heart. She described the events of the day of Jalal’s death including how police did not speak to witnesses and even gave her back Jalal’s blooded school bag, not even taking it in for evidence or cleaning it for her.
She also described the callous nature of Ayou Deng whose only concern when she hit Jalal was that she might go to jail, Deng even accused Olivia of intimidation and harassment when she showed up at her court appearances. She said she had been tempted to crawl up into a hole over the trauma but the support she had received from family, friends and neighbours and also wanting to set a moral example for her other sons she began this campaign for justice
After the walk and speeches had concluded we spoke with Olivia about her campaign, the support she receiving and how she plans to continue her fight for justice. She plans to confront Ayou Deng again when she fronts court again in June after being charged with another criminal offence. I struggled to maintain my composure after being so moved by her speech so I can only imagine how much strength this campaign takes from Olivia.
A petition calling for Justice for Jalal was started at avaaz.org which currently stands at 8k signatures and now one has been created to introduce Jalal’s Law (Crimes Amendment (Unlicensed Drivers) Bill 2018) in Victoria’s Legislative Council. There is also a legal fighting fund at gofundme to have the investigation into her son’s killing reopened. Other media that reported on the rally were Seven News and ABC. Certainly, this is cause and injustice that should interest all media organisations. We hope that eventually with more public support Olivia can receive the justice and closure on this tragic event she is seeking.
Video of the rally’s speeches, our interview with Olivia and other footage from the day will be posted on The Unshackled’s YouTube channel in the next day.