Pensioner who abused Muslim artist and damaged sculpture apologises
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday November 16 2016
A pensioner who told an artist “we voted to take our country back again” before damaging an art sculpture of a figure in a burqa days after Brexit has been spared jail.
Mikhaela Haze, 70, pleaded guilty to causing religiously aggravated criminal damage when she appeared before Westminster magistrates’ court in July. At a sentence hearing in August, Ms Haze’s case was deferred until 12 November so that a report on her mental health and alcohol problems could be compiled.
Appearing again at Westminster magistrates’ court this week, the events of 30 June were recounted.
The court heard Ms Haze had walked into the Royal College of Art in the evening on 30 June, where artist Yasmeen Sabri was exhibiting her ‘Walk a Mile in her Veil’ exhibition.
Ms Haze shouted abuse at Ms Sabri, telling her “you don’t belong here” and “Go back to Saudi Arabia”.
Ms Haze was being escorted off the premises by a security guard when she “made one last dash for the sculpture,” damaging Ms Sabri’s work.
The court heard the sculpture took Ms Sabri six months to create and was valued at £6,300.
In a victim statement read out in court, Ms Sabri said the incident caused her to feel “very alarmed, I was scared, I was very hurt.”
“I was really scared that she would become physically violent,” she added.
The court also heard that Ms Haze had suffered from a drinking problem since she was a teenager. Ms Sabri had earlier indicated here preference for the matter to be resolved without recourse to courts and for Ms Haze to receive treatment for her drink-related problems.
District Judge Timothy King sentencing Ms Haze said: “This was an awful offence – totally unnecessary.
“Whatever your views on whether a burka is oppressive towards Muslim women, your behaviour and taking the action you did in destroying the piece of artwork which had so much effort, time and money invested in it was wholly unnecessary.
Ms Haze avoided a custodial sentence and was handed a nine-week jail term, suspended for 12 months. She was also ordered to undertake 15 days’ rehabilitation activity requirement as directed by probation, and to pay £85 costs and a £115 surcharge.
Ms Haze thanked the judge and apologised to Ms Sabri saying “She is a lovely, lovely woman, and I am sorry.”