A CHURCHGOER who left pork products outside a mosque during a hate campaign against Muslims has been put behind bars.
John White left rashers of bacon outside the religious building in South Shields and other such products outside worshippers’ homes in the town.
Newcastle Crown Court heard despite the distress caused to the members of the Jam-E-Masjid mosque, chairman Mohammed Miah has told police he bears no grudge.
Stuart Graham, defending White, said: “The chairman of the mosque has said everything has calmed down and they don’t wish him any ill. Something has triggered this, but they certainly don’t wish him any harm.”
Judge Christopher Prince said Mr Miah has shown “great humanity and sensitivity” in attitude and should be commended for taking the view he has.
But the judge said White, who lives near the mosque and has attended a church in the same street for more than 30 years, must be kept in custody until he is sentenced in September.
White, of Homestall Close, South Shields, had been caught on CCTV carrying out the hate attacks in January and confessed what he had done when he was arrested.
But when his case got to court, he falsely claimed the police had somehow forced him to wrongly confess and pleaded not guilty.
White was due to be tried by a jury yesterday, but before the hearing started he informed his lawyers he would be changing his plea, and admitted five charges of religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.
Judge Prince told White: “This is very disturbing. You have committed offences that amount to a campaign that demonstrated hostility towards Muslims. Such foul discrimination is offensive to all right-minded people, regardless of their religious beliefs.”
Stuart Graham, defending, said White has sought help with his mental health for many years and psychiatric evidence may be a feature of mitigation that could result in a non-custodial sentence.
Mr Graham asked that White’s bail be renewed as there has been no further trouble since the incidents, which seem to have been sparked by a falling out against one particular individual, rather than Muslims in general.
Mr Graham said the offences were “stupid acts” and White had associated with Muslims for many years without difficulty, adding: “The risk of damage to the public is incredibly small.”
But the Judge refused and told White: “It appears to me there is a substantial risk. You are, at the moment, in a volatile and unpredictable state of mind and it seems to me, if you are suffering from a psychiatric disorder, it would be rash of me to release you back into the community when there continues a risk you might behave in this way or launch into another campaign.”
The court heard a huge police investigation was launched when the mosque, a well-established part of the South Shields community, became a target.
It had been feared the offensive acts were being committed by an organised group rather than an individual.
But prosecutor Tom Moran told the court: “Thankfully, it was nipped in the bud as police caught him quickly.It has not led to other problems.”