Man who stuck ‘anti-Islam posters’ near Walsall mosque sentenced for hate crime
Categories: Latest News
Tuesday November 10 2015
The Express and Star reports on the sentencing of a man caught putting up anti-Islam posters in the vicinity of the Aisha mosque in Walsall, over three days last July.
The posters, which “featured images and messages mocking the Islam faith,” appeared in the Wednesbury Road area in Walsall, near the Aisha mosque. Francesco Riccobono was spotted putting up a poster by police officers on 3 July, following a spate of posters which had appeared in the area over the course of the previous three days. Riccobono ran from the officers but was later arrested after being caught with a stick of glue. He initially denied all knowledge of the posters.
At Walsall Magistrates Court this week, Riccobono, 68, admitted racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment with intent to cause fear or alarm.
His defence team argued his actions were consistent with the UK’s tradition of freedom of speech where “thoughts are [not] controlled by the Government.”
But Magistrate, Irene Gutteridge, sentencing Riccobono, said: “We are fortunate in the United Kingdom that we allow freedom of speech and people are entitled to their own personal views.
“However it is not acceptable for an individual to cause harassment, alarm and distress by displaying posters intentionally to cause offence to a specific group of people, in this case the Muslim people.”
Riccobono’s sentence was extended from six weeks suspended to 12 weeks suspended, taking into account the enhanced sentencing powers available to the courts in the case of hate crimes.
He was also ordered to pay £510 in court costs and £50 in compensation.
The Aisha mosque in Walsall is one of the three mosques which were targeted by far right extremist, Pavlo Lapshyn, in the summer of 2013 during his spate of attacks against Muslims in Birmingham resulting in the murder of Muslim grandfather, Mohammed Saleem.