Foreign students attacked in Barnstaple park

FOREIGN language teachers have expressed their disgust after a group of Hungarian youngsters were left shocked and shaken after being attacked by local youths in a Barnstaple park. Nine foreign students, part of a group of 28 staying with host families in

FOREIGN language teachers have expressed their disgust after a group of Hungarian youngsters were left shocked and shaken after being attacked by local youths in a Barnstaple park.

Nine foreign students, part of a group of 28 staying with host families in the town for a week to improve their English skills, were allegedly set upon by a group of drunken youths at around 9pm on Tuesday, August 18.

The students, aged between 14 and 20 from Budapest, said they were sitting around talking in Rock Park when they were approached by two local girls asking for tobacco. When they told them they didn't have any, a larger group of five girls and two boys sprayed what the shocked foreigners described as "brown spicy sauce" over the group, including in one girl's eyes.

Krisztia'n BujDso', 17, said that at this stage, the terrified visitors were chased out of the park, but that two of his friends were punched to the ground and kicked before help could arrive. Two foreign youths were treated by paramedics at the nearby Park Hotel, where they had run to find help.


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"The English were drunk and they hit my friend Peter very hard in the face," he told the Gazette. "When he fell to the ground they kicked him and grabbed my other friend Marcel around the throat.

"We have enjoyed our week in Barnstaple but that night is so terrible; it was terrifying for us."

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Angela Drummond, who has been running the Talking Heads language school with husband Roy for eight years, said the incident had left the whole group shaken up.

"They are a really quiet, calm group and only went to the park so they could sit around and talk," she said.

"When the hotel called the police and the ambulance, one of the girls was so shaken, she couldn't even write her name. Even now, she is still very upset and doesn't want to talk about it.

"When we were talking to the paramedics about what had happened, they just shook their heads in disgust."

Angela, who arranges for groups of teenagers from all over Europe to visit North Devon, decided to approach the Gazette with the story despite the repercussions it might have for her business.

She said that due to the region's long distance from major international airports, it was "a constant battle" to get groups to come down and stay here rather than with host families in cities such as London.

"It's hard enough to bring foreign exchange business to Barnstaple anyway, without students going home and telling their families about the thugs they met here."

"For local children to do this to visitors to the town is just gutting," she said, adding that groups of foreign students were often heckled by local youths when on guided tours of the town.

Sgt Paul Jones of Barnstaple Police said the youngsters had not wanted to pursue the matter, but language schools would be visited to discuss ways of keeping foreign students safe.

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