£10,000 reward offered over mystery of Sussex man’s death

Police investigating the unsolved death of a Sussex man 21 years ago are offering £10,000 for information which will lead to a conviction.

Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 3:01 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 3:11 pm

Jay Abatan was attacked while waiting for a taxi outside the Ocean Rooms in Brighton on January 24 1999, in what his family believe was a ‘racially-motivated attack’.

After hitting his head on the pavement, the 42-year-old from Eastbourne suffered a fractured skull and died in hospital five days later.


Two men were arrested and charged in connection with the death of Jay, an accountant from the Meads area of town.

But the pair were later cleared of lesser charges of affray and assault during a trial.

Detective Superintendent Emma Heater of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team said, “The case remains open.

“We are appealing for anybody who has so far felt unable to speak about what they either witnessed or maybe something that they have subsequently heard that could be significant information in this case.

“You may not appreciate the importance of what you saw or heard so we urge you to report it, you may hold the piece of the puzzle that allows us to build the picture to provide answers for the family of Jay.”

DS Heater said, “We will investigate any viable new lines of enquiry and urge anyone with information to come forward.”

Sussex Police is offering a £10,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of any person responsible for the death of Jay Abatan.

Michael Abatan held a vigil on the 20th anniversary of his brother’s death in January 2019.

At the time he said it was ‘not too late’ for people to come forward and ‘do the right thing.

He said, “I am told that there are some witnesses who are still wrestling with their conscience but scared of repercussions.

“My message to them is it is never easy to do what is right but they should have courage to correct this injustice.”

Michael told Sussex Newspapers in 2014, “My family can no longer trust Sussex Police.”

Sussex Police previously said it accepted failings in the 1999 investigation but was ‘committed to investigating any new information’ that could result in a conviction.

• If you have any information about the case report online or call 101 quoting Operation Dorchester or use the Major Incident Public Portal.

• Alternatively, you can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report online.