ONE OF Swindon's Asian community leaders has said that the youths convicted of attacking Henry Webster were good boys who got caught up in a bad situation.

The families of most of the teenagers live in the Broadgreen area and attend the Jamia Mosque in Broad Street.

Azim Khan, chairman of the Thamesdown Islamic Association, which runs the mosque said he did not think race played a part in the attack, but blamed teenagers getting caught up in gang culture.

"All of the families come to the mosque," said Mr Khan.

"Their families are all devastated that they could get caught up in something like this. They are really upset and don't understand how this happened. Our job now as a community is to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"They're not bad kids whatsoever. Their families are normal families, they wouldn't harm anybody, they are working families.

"But at the end of the day kids are kids. I don't think this incident was about those children being Asian, I think it is about children in general not having respect for authorities.

"When you look at the papers you see stories about kids in gangs up and down the country.

"There isn't much for them to do. They get together and get into trouble.

"We always advise the children to be part of the community. Make a name for yourself by being hardworking and a benefit to the community. But there are always exceptions, one or two who get into trouble, but 99 per cent are good.

"Everyone now is making sure they keep an eye on their children and that they are not hanging around together outside school and sports clubs and things."

In court Wasif Khan said he had been scared to tell the truth because of pressure from the Asian community. He said he gave no comment in his police interview because Amjad Qazi's father was an imam at the mosque.

Mr Khan confirmed Qazi's father had been an imam until two years ago.

"I knew Amjad quite well," he said.

"He's a nice boy. I don't understand how he went along with what happened. These children had no intention to take these steps. He was just very unfortunate that they somehow got to go and do this.

"They all said they had not intention whatsoever to do this sort of thing. It was just bad luck that they got caught up in this unfortunate incident.

"What they have been saying to me is it is just an unfortunate situation they became a part of. It was just bad luck''.

Mr Khan said despite a large number of Asian youngsters being convicted of taking part in the attack it had not caused any racial tensions.

"I haven't heard anything that makes me think it is dividing the community.

"The trial is not really something people have been talking about.

"This was an argument between schoolboys that went wrong. Wrong to the extreme. But this wasn't about race.

"I believe in living in this country and by the laws of this country.

"If somebody does wrong then they should be dealt with by the courts and justice system.

"I don't think people will judge the Asian community by the outcome of this case.

"Swindon has a very good integrated community. You don't come across any racists.

"During the police operation they have been very good to keep the community with them to solve any problems.

"Just after the attack happened there was some talk about it being racially motivated, but I haven't seen any evidence of that and the police don't think it was.

"The BNP have had a few things to say about it, but everyone else seems to have realised it was just a very unfortunate incident these boys got caught up in."