A further spate of violent incidents in Cowley this week highlight the escalating level of aggression in Oxford that are affecting both town and gown alike.
On Saturday, a local man was knifed in the buttock as he tried to prevent thugs from getting into his restaurant. The chain of events that led to the stabbing begun at Temple Lounge on Cowley Road, where customers had been shocked to hear a diner abusively demand that the manager take his order. Staff escorted the man and his associates from the premises around 10.30pm.
Shortly afterwards the men attempted to re-enter the restaurant but were blocked by the manager and assistant manager. In the fracas that followed, the manager was allegedly slapped by the ringleader and the front door was smashed in. One of the men produced a lock knife and stabbed the assistant manager in the buttock.
The attackers then fled the scene. They are believed to be aged in their mid-thirties.
The knife victim, 40, wanted to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals but spoke exclusively to Cherwell. “My bum feels very sore…I’ve got four stitches.”
The victim continued, “I haven’t seen [the wound] yet but it’s about two inches deep. I’m lucky to be alive because if it was two inches up or two inches down I would have bled to death before I got to hospital.”
The manager is thought to have had previous trouble with the attackers. Police have not arrested anyone in connection with the assault.
An anonymous man familiar with the restaurant said “[The attackers] were plastic gangsters down from London. You get a lot of that around the Cowley Road now.”
Exeter College student Alex Ding lives around the corner from the crime scene. “I don’t feel safe at all” he said. “I’m going to be much more careful walking around Cowley Road now. It’s really not very safe.”
In a separate incident, a nineteen year old man was arrested in the early hours of last Sunday morning outside Clem’s nightclub on the Cowley Road roundabout for beating an Oxford University student with his belt, causing severe head injuries.
Witnesses at the scene reported that the fight broke out after the student threw a bottle that hit the windscreen of a passing car. The furious driver jumped out the car, took off his belt, and used it to whip the student and his friend. Bouncers at the nightclub called the police to the scene who intervened and arrested the driver.
Thames Valley Police told Cherwell, “The incident took place at 1:26 AM on Sunday morning outside Clementine’s nightclub. A male was hit in the back of the head with a belt several times, causing it to bleed. We were called to the incident and the grieved party pointed out the offender who we promptly arrested for assault.” The driver is now on police bail until 14 June.
Bouncers had ejected the student from Clems after he had been caught urinating on the downstairs bar.
Mr Garcia said, “the student wasn’t happy with being kicked out, he was very drunk. He stood across the road from the bouncers and attempted to throw a bottle at them but instead it hit a passing car. The bottle hit the windscreen and the man pulled over. Of course, he wasn’t happy, next thing we knew a fight broke out”.
Bouncers at the nightclub decided not to get involved until the police arrived. One witness stated that she had implored the bouncers to intervene but they refused. This has caused concerns among partying students about street safety late at night.
A Thames Valley Police spokesperson said, “Bouncers don’t have power of arrest. They have to be very careful about intervening.”
The assaults this week are the latest in a series of violent crimes in Oxford. The last fortnight alone has seen a body wash up in the Isis, a sexual assault and a fatal stabbing. In a further attack last week, a Christ Church student was left unconscious on St. Aldate’s whilst walking home from The Bridge nightclub.
Christ Church Junior Censor Ian Watson claimed that “Oxford is still not Detroit”. Asked to comment on the latest Cowley Road attack, Dr Watson conceded that “It does seem to be getting more dangerous.”
A spokesperson from the University maintained, “Violent attacks against Oxford University students remain a very rare occurrence”