Rajitkumar Sothilingham was walking down the Victorian Arcade, just off Market Hill, last Friday when he was attacked.
Shocking CCTV footage released this week shows the 41-year-old being pulled to the ground by his neck before being punched and kicked repeatedly as other members of the group stole his phone and a packet of cigarettes he was carrying.
Rajitkumar moved from Sri Lanka two years ago and now lives in the Oakwell area. His friend, Mahes Saravanamuthu, who owns and runs the Oakwell News shop said as a result of the attack, Rajitkumar is now scared to leave the house.
“He won’t go into town now,” said Mahes, 42. “After the attack he rang me and told me what happened and I just couldn’t believe it. He was shocked that it happened in the middle of the day as well.”
Rajitkumar sustained injuries to his head, neck and body after the attack.
“After the attack he was shaking and he was very frightened,” Mahes added. “He has pain in his neck and bruises on his face and he is very frightened.
“Nobody thought this would happen. We are all shocked and we all feel very bad for him and now he is scared it will happen again should he leave his house.”
The attack was captured on CCTV and was quickly shared to social media where it gained attention and caused outrage among the public.
Steven O’Brien saw the video and created a Go Fund Me page to help raise money for the victim.
“After I saw the video I was absolutely appalled,” said Steven, 39, from Worsbrough.
“I felt compelled to try and help him, I felt so sorry for him and I wanted to help him to get a new phone and try to pick himself up from this.”
Once the page was created, donations quickly started pouring in and more than £3,000 has been raised.
“Initially I set a limit of £500,” added Steven. “But in an hour the donations came to £200.
“I think the people who have done this are cowards but out of this you can see how people want to help the man which goes to show how kind people can be.”
In a statement released by South Yorkshire Police, it was revealed that six people were arrested for the attack, released and five were re-arrested on Wednesday.
“Shortly after 1pm on May 8, it is reported that a 41-year-old man was robbed by a group of people as he walked down an alleyway in Barnsley town centre.
“He was assaulted, hit in the face and pulled to the ground, before his mobile phone and cigarettes were taken.
“Five men, aged 34, 28, 27, 25 and 19, and a 21-year-old woman, were initially arrested on suspicion of robbery and released under investigation.
“Following new information being received, five of the six have been re-arrested on suspicion of robbery and are currently in police custody.
“The 28-year-old man has not been re-arrested but remains under investigation.
“We are aware that CCTV footage of the incident is circulating on social media and are urging everyone to be cautious about what they post and share in relation to this footage, so as not to compromise the ongoing investigation.
“If you have any information that could help officers, please call 101 quoting investigation number 14/72599/20.
“You can also give information anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers via their website, or by calling their UK Contact Centre on 0800 555 111.”