Kevin Quinn, the leader of a right wing party convicted of a religiously aggravated public order offence after a racist speech in South Oxhey, has received a six-month suspended prison sentence.
Quinn launched a tirade of abuse at a British First Party rally after setting up a stall with Union flags in the shopping precinct on Saturday, December 1, 2007. The 44-year-old was arrested after he was heard to shout all Muslims are b******s, while referring to the plight of British school teacher Gillian Gibbons, accused of blasphemy in Sudan after allowing children to name a Teddy Bear Muhammad.
Quinn was found guilty after a second trial at St Albans Crown Court in March and sentence was adjourned for reports until Monday. The jury in the first trial was discharged when they could not reach a verdict. A two-year suspended sentence imposed on the unemployed father of four, for disseminating racist literature had only just expired when he took to the stand in South Oxhey.
In mitigation Mark Kimsey, said although Quinn - who sat in the dock with his bag dressed in a blue tracksuit - held “extreme views” the court case had had a profound effect on the party leader and its 1000 members.
Mr Kimsey said: “The words uttered on that day weren’t to cause offence but the emotion was some what high. Earlier he had been handed an article in the Daily Mail about the woman in Sudan and the naming of a Teddy Bear Muhammad. The words were said in the heat of the moment and he apologises for the upset.”
He added: “One shopkeeper took exception to the words uttered, but there was no public unrest.”
One of Quinn’s children had been bullied as a result of the media attention to the case, which had caused the defendant to think about his place in the party. Mr Kimsey said: “He is reconsidering his role in the party. He has learnt a hard lesson by the impact the court case has had on him and those closest to him. He will now concentrate on his family rather than the political views he holds.”
Before sentencing, Judge Stephen Warner said: “The jury found you used abusive or insulting words directed towards those of the Muslim faith. There is a right of freedom of speech in this country, which extends to those such as yourself who seek to express in public views such as yours however offensive many may find them to be. That right, however, does not include the right to insult or abuse such members of the public that are exposed to that behaviour.
“A member of the public felt sufficiently strongly to contact police because you had abused that freedom of expression. You have a long history of involvement in extreme organisations and clearly hold deeply entrenched views consistent with that ideology.”
The judge noted the party operated on a small scale and was a “marginal less than sophisticated fringe organisation”. He concluded: “The option I face is to send you to prison today, which many would regard you thoroughly deserve, or an alternative course to mark the seriousness of the offence but allow you to stay in the community.”
Judge Warner suspended the six-month sentence for 18 months. Quinn was also ordered to carry out 250 hours unpaid work, and subjected to a four-month curfew from 7pm to 6am. He will be supervised by probation for six months.