Man jailed after lunging at Australian TV reporter with screwdriver during Hyde Park George Floyd protest

AN ASYLUM seeker who attacked an Australian TV reporter live on air during a protest in London has been jailed.

Algerian Sofane Yakr, 27, lunged at Channel Nine's Sophie Walsh and yelled "Allahu Akbar” as she reported on a Black Lives Matter march.


Sophie's terrified screams were heard live on air and moments later millions of viewers saw her shocked face.

Brave cameraman Jason Conduit grabbed a light stand and chased after Yakr, who was armed with a screwdriver.

He caught up with him and with the help of passers-by detained him until police arrived.

Sophie said after the attack: “He had a hand in his pocket. I thought: 'Does he have a knife and will he start stabbing us all?'

"I don't think anyone knows the sound of their true scream until they're in a situation like that where they feel like it's a life or death scenario."

Sophie was attacked while she was reporting on a protest in London on June 3 last year following the death of George Floyd in America.

Her channel had cut away from her briefly to show footage of a protest in Paris when viewers heard her screams.

The footage cut back to Sophie looking shocked as she watched her cameraman chase Yakr.


Newcastle Crown Court was told that her attacker had suddenly appeared in front of her, pushed her with both hands and lunged at her with a stabbing motion.

He then gesticulated aggressively towards other people with a screwdriver before running off repeatedly shouting “Allahu Akbar" – meaning God is the greater in Arabic.

Prosecutor Vince Ward said: “Her voice could be heard as she was being attacked.

"She reappeared on air and was obviously distressed by the attack.”

Sophie said in a victim impact statement read to court that she felt "exposed and vulnerable" during the assault.

She added: "By the time I realised he was there, he was on me. If he wanted to hurt me, he could have done.

"Live broadcasts are part of the job and I have to do them every day but I now have a fear.

"Hooligans shout out but I've never had someone come up and grab me.

"It's concerning to me. Producing live news, I need to be focused. It could have an impact on my career.

"I don't want to be someone who's scared to enjoy a simple run in the park."

Judge Amanda Rippon jailed Yakr for 28 months and said his intention was to “cause widespread fear”.

She told him: "You assaulted a TV news reporter during a live broadcast and used a screwdriver to threaten her while shouting Allahu Akbar.

"Her victim personal statement makes it quite plain how shocking and upsetting and distressing it was to her.

"I hope you are deported to Algeria because that's where you want to be and that's, frankly, where you should be."

The court heard Yakr had suffered after his father died and had moved to the UK in search of a better life but fell into a life of crime.

The court heard he was under the influence of drugs when he attacked Sophie.

He admitted assaulting her during an earlier appearance before Westminster JPs but was sentenced in Newcastle where he had outstanding offences.

He had stolen mobile phones and banks cards from a series of women at bars in Newcastle city centre.

Yakr, of Newcastle, who has 14 previous convictions, admitted assault, possessing an offensive weapon, theft, possessing identity documents with an improper intention and possessing cannabis.

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