Women joined racist EDL mob which attacked Kurdish family, Plymouth Crown Court hears
Plymouth Herald by Carl Eve | Saturday, 23 February 2013 | Click here for original article
Two women joined a racist mob which attacked and abused a terrified Kurdish family in a city centre takeaway, a court heard.
Hayley Wells, aged 28, and 30-year-old Kelly Watterson were part of a group which spilled out of a pub and hurled vile abuse on a Sunday afternoon.
Someone threw a glass which smashed next to a baby in a car seat inside the Istanbul kebab shop in Exeter Street, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
Wells scratched the boy's mother on the arm and Watterson admitted she was drunk and aggressive as part of the mob, which had been attending a meeting of the English Defence League.
The mother and her partner were so shaken that they have since sold the takeaway.
Recorder Paul Derbyshire said: "This was a shocking and violent incident which left these victims in a distressed state.
"This has led to the closure of the business and they have moved away."
He handed Wells a suspended prison sentence and Watterson a community order. Both must do hefty periods of unpaid work.
Watterson, of St Peter's Road, Manadon, admitted one count of affray and Wells, of Shell Close, Leigham, admitted one count of religiously aggravated common assault on August 31, 2011.
Kelly Scrivener, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said the male victim arrived at the shop at about 2pm to see a large group of men and women gathered outside the nearby Wild Coyote pub.
He added they racially abused him and told him to "go back to his own country".
Miss Scrivener said someone in the group threw a glass object, which smashed on his car.
She added the two defendants kicked the door of the shop and Wells scratched the woman's arm.
The court heard the mob continued to shout "EDL" and further racist abuse.
Miss Scrivener said an unknown member of the group threw a glass which smashed close to her infant son in a car seat.
She added Wells and Watterson were pulled away by men in the group.
Wells told police in interview that she believed all Muslims were extremists and if she saw a woman in a burka it would make her angry.
She admitted to officers that she organised EDL meetings and had been drinking and taking amphetamine.
Miss Scrivener said Watterson, the best friend of Wells, admitted being drunk and aggressive and said she was swept along with the group.
The court heard a statement from the victim which said she still feels "very frightened" walking around the city centre.
She said her partner sold the takeaway, because he was too afraid to work so close to the pub.
Deni Matthews, for Wells, said the offence was 18 months old and a probation officer believed she was unlikely to reoffend.
He added since that time her partner and the father of her child had died in a road accident. Darren Walsh, aged 20, crashed a car in Leigham after drinking and smoking cannabis.
Mr Matthews said: "She suffered from effectively a stroke in short terms and it left her with difficulties."
He added: "She has three children and is a good and proper mother."
Jason Beal, for Watterson, said: "She was very drunk and became involved in an argument involving others. She expresses remorse and contrition."
He added she was doing a college course in beauty.
The judge handed Wells a three-month prison sentence suspended for two years under probation supervision. She must do 200 hours unpaid work and pay the victim £100 in compensation.
Watterson was given a 12-month community order under probation supervision with 150 hours unpaid work. She must also pay £100 in compensation to the victim.
GRACIOUSNESS OF VICTIMS GLAD ATTACKERS HAVE NOT BEEN JAILED
THE mother caught up in the racist attack has said she is pleased her attackers have not been jailed as 'they have young children... and those children need their mothers'.
The mother's words were relayed to The Herald by the key witness in the case and family friend, who has asked to be identified only as HK.
She was called by the mother as the family became increasingly fearful of the raging mob near to the Istanbul kebab shop.
HK said she accompanied the husband as he went to his car by the pub to make a delivery, leaving the mother, her 14-year-old daughter and eight-week old baby boy at the shop.
HK said: "The mob were shouting 'Allah is a paedo'.
The husband said to them he was just trying to do his job, but he couldn't reason with them. I could see they were working themselves up, chanting 'EDL'. I told him to get into his car as they threw glasses and as I raced back to the shop, telling everyone to get inside, they were all behind me. There was me between the family and the mob. The daughter was shouting 'leave my dad alone' and they told her to '**** off you Muslim s**g'.
"I'd called the police, saying 'we're being attacked by a racist mob' – they could hear everything. The men were throwing glasses into the shop. I was screaming at the family to get out the back – I didn't know how long I could hold the door. The family were at the back, crying. They said they didn't want to leave me behind. I phoned the police again and told them to record what they heard, record what happened to us when the mob got in."
HK said when the police arrived Wells and Watterson went in a different direction to the mob. HK said she kept the door shut until police wielding Tasers had deployed dogs and moved the mob back to the Wild Coyote pub.
As she opened the door, she spotted the pair walking past so she raced to an officer and pointed them out.
She said: "They were swearing and shouting, even when they were taken to the floor.
"When we went to the police station we all had glass in our clothes. Glass was all over the baby boy.
"It was terrifying. I've done Human Rights work in conflict zones but this mob were out of control."
She said the husband sold his store for fear of being attacked again.
HK said: "Every time he did a delivery, he was afraid it would be one of them, fitting him up. He said he would sometimes turn around [on a delivery] because he was so scared. I called the mother to tell her the sentence and she said: 'I'm very happy they've not gone to prison because I know they have young children and babies and those children need their mothers with them.'
"It shows this family are worlds apart from the mob. When I told her she was being very gracious, she said: 'You have to be kind to people – you can't be the same as them."'
PLYMOUTH'S TOP COP SPEAKS OUT AGAINST RACIST VIOLENCE
THE city's top police officer, Chief Supt Andy Bickley, said racism had no place in Plymouth.
Responding to the case, he said: "These offences were extremely serious and led to a thorough police investigation undertaken by specialist hate crime detectives. The evidence was presented to the court and we've finally seen convictions.
"I'd like to thank the witnesses who had the courage to give evidence and support our investigation. It was a hugely intimidating and frightening experience for the witnesses and the family.
"Many in the community may question the severity of sentences and the message it sends.
"It's not for the police to question the decision of the courts.
"However, the sentences should not in any way detract from how seriously we have taken this case and the efforts we've made to bring it to court for the evidence to be presented.
"A conviction for racism is nothing to be proud of and a shadow of shame will haunt them for the rest of their lives. The victims have been supported throughout the case by police and other agencies. It is shameful this level of intimidation and hate contributed to their decision to leave the city. We've lost not only a business, but also a hard-working family.
"The majority of Plymothians work hard to make this a welcoming city and we mustn't lose sight of this.
"I will not tolerate or accept this kind of criminality. Those that choose to do this or support it in any way need to know there will be no place to hide.
"People who are victims of any kind of hate crime can contact police, or our partner agencies or Crimestoppers and they will be supported."