Man cleared by jury over pig’s heads outside Islamic centre
Categories: Latest News
Monday December 07 2015
The Birmingham Mail reports on the trial of a man accused of leaving four pig heads outside the entrance of a Solihull community centre as it hosted a Muslim themed event, “Building a Masjid, Building a Community.”
Carl Stephens, 34, was charged with causing religiously aggravated alarm and distress after spit found at the site was linked to him through DNA evidence.
A jury at Birmingham Crown Court were shown CCTV footage of Stephens allegedly leaving the severed pig heads outside the community centre on April 12, 2015 at 9.03pm. Stephens denied the charge.
James Bruce, prosecuting, told the court: “On April 7 this year the Solihull community centre in Hermitage Road held an event. That event was called Building a Masjid, Building a Community, Masjid being a word for mosque. The community centre is not a mosque. It is a community centre and it lets out its rooms at evenings and weekends to the community. But on that particular weekend in April this place was associated with the Muslim community because of that event.”
While showing the CCTV footage, Mr Bruce added: “You can see the items that Stephens left by the front door, and, really, they speak for themselves, four severed pigs heads.”
Stephens has denied being the man in the video and rejected the prosecution’s suggestion that the crime was religiously aggravated. He said the footage “looked like littering rather than a religiously aggravated offence.”
Mr Bruce told the jury: “The issue for you is whether he showed hostility towards Muslims by leaving those pigs heads on the doorstep. We say that his actions speak for themselves.”
Unsubstantiated rumours that the community centre was being used as an “unauthorised” mosque were in circulation earlier this year, with a petition attracting 3,000 signatures, objecting to the use of the premises as a place for collective worship.
At the time Stephens was charged, in June 2015, prosecutor Danny Devine, described Mr Stephens’ actions as a “deliberate, planned action against a targeted victim”. One local Muslim resident, Mohammed Abdullah, said: “I’ve been living in Solihull for 10 to 15 years now and it’s never been as frightening to live in this area as a Muslim as it is now.”
On Friday, Stephens was cleared by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court.