The victim of violent assault and theft was left lying on the ground at the St Hugh’s Ball in the early hours of last Sunday morning. The attacker, who was wearing a top hat, is believed to have been dressed as a juggler.
The sequence of events leading up to the assault begun in jest, but took an ominous turn when the student, who wished to remain anonymous, was hit so forcefully that she was knocked to the ground. Following this, her phone was allegedly snatched by the same stranger who had just hit her.
The student explained what happened: “We were standing near to the stranger and my friends thought it would be funny to take his top hat. It was done instantaneously, in a jovial manner.
“As soon as my friends had ran away with the hat, the man aggressively turned on me. I told him I did not know who the other girls were who had taken his hat. I just said this because I was scared of his aggressive manner.”
It was after this that the alleged assault took place. The student said, “I was holding my phone in my hand and he tried to wrestle it from me. Suddenly I felt some kind of hit, which knocked me to the ground. I was completely in shock as he ran off with my phone. By the time I had picked myself up, he had gone.”
The assault took place at around 2.30am in the main marquee, while the Queen tribute band was playing. After the assault, the student was taken by the security guard to receive first aid. She has subsequently reported the incident to the police who are treating it as “snatch theft”.
It is believed that the stranger was much too old to be a student. The victim of the assault recalled that her assailant had a shaved head with stubble, and was of particularly small stature.
The other distinguishing feature about the stranger was his large top hat. The ball committee are currently in possession of this hat, which they are treating as a vital piece of evidence in their search for the stranger.
The hat was handed to Eleanor Hale, President of the Ball Committee, at the end of the evening. Hale said, “I think it is really unlikely for the mugger to have been another student. He may have been a gatecrasher, but the fact that he had a hat – the one that the juggler was wearing – means he may well have been one of the jugglers.”
The student had been working at the St Hugh’s Ball as an assistant supervisor at the main stage until 11pm. Jeff Pole was in charge of the staff on the night, and has been involved in identifying the culprit. He said, “Quite a few people on the ball committee think it could be a juggler. We want to track down who the culprit was, and we are definitely going to follow this up.”
Zoe Burges, who was in charge of entertainment on the ball committee, urged caution in jumping to conclusions. She said, “The hat is very similar to that of our entertainment people. The problem is that anyone could have been wearing the hat – an audience member perhaps.”
She confirmed that the committee had been in contact with various entertainment companies in an attempt to identify the mystery attacker.
A spokesperson from Thames Valley Police said, “The incident was reported to us on Monday the 10th April. We were notified of an incident which occurred on Sunday 9th April at 2.30am at St Hugh’s College on St Margarets Road.
“The offender became aggressive and is believed to have hit the aggrieved, knocking her to the ground, and taking her mobile phone. We are treating the incident as robbery, specifically as snatch theft.
“We certainly will be launching an investigation into finding the culprit, and we will pursue all avenues of enquiry.”
Speaking of the ball in general, Eleanor Hale said, “Everything went really well, there was a really positive atmosphere. There was a bit of jostling at the tea party, and a few people were ejected due to drunkenness, but this violent mugging was a completely isolated incident.”