A 15-year-old boy has admitted attacking a student from Singapore who was told “we don’t want your coronavirus in our country”.
Jonathan Mok, 23, was beaten up in Oxford Street near Tottenham Court Road Tube station on 24 February.
The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court to wounding or grievous bodily harm without intent.
He will be sentenced at the same court next month.
‘Don’t you look at me’
Prosecutor Beata Murphy said the teenager had been with a group of friends when they saw UCL student Mr Mok walking along Oxford Street just after 21:00 GMT.
She added: “He [the victim] heard someone say something about coronavirus and he turned around and was told ‘don’t you look at me’.
“He was then punched in the face… until a passerby said to stop assaulting Mr Mok.
“He believes he was targeted because of ethnicity.”
Images of Mr Mok’s bruised and swollen eye posted on Facebook were shared thousands of times following the attack.
X-rays showed he had suffered a complicated fracture to his nose and also to his cheekbone.
Mrs Murphy said during his police interviews the boy was “silent” until CCTV images were shown to him when he said “you can’t even see me hit him”.
Defence barrister Gerard Pitt said the boy was not charged with racially aggravated assault.
District Judge Nicholas Rimmer adjourned sentencing until 7 September for a report to be prepared.
Afterwards the Crown Prosecution Service’s Daniel Kavanagh said the attack was “vicious and completely unprovoked”.
“He was clearly targeted in this hate crime because of his ethnic appearance.
“Hate crime has a corrosive effect on our society and nobody should be subjected to such vile behaviour.”