Successful hate crime prosecutions published for Hate Crime Awareness Week

14/10/2015

"Hate Crime is driven by prejudice and hostility based upon a person's race, gender, sexuality, religion, age or disability. It affects not only victims but also communities, creating an atmosphere of fear and distress and has no place in our society", said Steve Hoolohan, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor and Senior Hate Crime lead for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Wessex.

Mr Hoolohan added: "It is important that communities understand we treat hate crime very seriously and to mark Hate Crime Awareness Week we are publishing some examples of successful cases that have been through the courts in Wessex. I hope the publication of these cases will encourage more victims to come forward and report incidents to the police, knowing that the CPS will do all it can to support them and bring offenders to justice.

"These are cases that have been scrutinised by our Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel, which brings together members of the community who have an interest in Hate Crime to provide a vital objective independent assessment of our performance and suggest ways we can improve."

Professor Chris Lewis, from Portsmouth University, independent facilitator of CPS Wessex Scrutiny and Involvement Panel said: "The Panel consists of volunteers drawn from different community groups. It looks in detail at 20-30 completed Hate Crime cases each year and draws attention of the Police, CPS and the Courts to where we feel improvements could be made. I would like to thank all members of the Panel for their work during the year in scrutinising Hate Crime Cases.

"We are not a closed group and I would like to encourage others with a concern for hate crime to apply to join the Scrutiny Panel, in particular young people, victims or friends of victims.

"I am sure that the cases that come to the justice system are just the tip of the iceberg. Many more go unreported, thus denying justice to the victims. It is vital to improve the reporting of Hate Crimes and I urge all those who are victims of Hate Crime or who see Hate Crimes being committed to report the incidents to the Police. It is also important to give evidence against offenders in court if requested.

"I should also like to encourage local communities to discuss the work of the panel and to send in ways in which they feel the prosecution of hate crime could be improved".

Disability (Isle of Wight prosecution)
Charges: Harassment section 2 Protection from Harassment Act 1998
Outcome: Guilty plea, three defendants given 12 month youth rehabilitation order with supervision order, curfew and prohibition from socialising together. One defendant given detention and training order totalling for eight months in custody, reduced to six months on appeal. Sentences increased under s146 Criminal Justice Act as it was a disability hate crime. All given 12 months restraining order preventing them going to the victims house or contacting them.

The victims, who both have learning disabilities, live in a supported living bungalow for vulnerable people. These individuals were victims to a catalogue of harassment over the course of six months by the defendants. It was initially thought by staff at the Centre that the victims were making up things or overreacting, however it was later discovered this was not the fact and the victims were advised by police not to go out and confront the youths.

Over the six months incidents included the defendants knocking on windows and doors (on one occasion whilst wearing masks), throwing stones at windows and a pumpkin at the door, climbing over fences, abuse in the street and criminal damage (window smashed, Halloween scarecrow damaged, and damage to electricity box supplying the property).

Religiously Aggravated (Dorset prosecution)
Charges: Religiously Aggravated section 4a Public Order Act 1986
Outcome: Pleaded guilty, 6 weeks' imprisonment suspended for 12 months, £80 compensation.

On leaving a kebab shop the defendant, who was drunk, followed the 16 year old victim and his friends, acting in an aggressive manner, becoming abusive and threatening using racially and religiously abusive language.

The court said that had there not been a hate crime element to the case they would have sentenced the defendant to a community order.

Racially Aggravated (Wiltshire prosecution)
Charges:
Racially Aggravated section 4a Public Order Act 1986
Outcome: Guilty plea, 6 months' imprisonment

The victim is a taxi driver and picked up four individuals. At the destination three passengers paid and left the taxi. The fourth passenger wanted to go to a further destination and the victim said as he was a pre-booked taxi the fare would have to be paid up front. The defendant refused and became racially abusive. The victim told him to get out the taxi but the defendant kept being racially abusive. The victim decided to drive him back to the original destination free of charge however at the destination the defendant refused to get out, saying to take him home or to the police station, so the victim took him to the police station where he was arrested.

Homophobic (Hampshire prosecution)
Charges:
Common Assault, section 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988
Outcome: Found Guilty following trial, 12 month community order with 80 hours unpaid work

The victim and his partner live in a flat and have been subject to ongoing homophobic abuse from their neighbour. The victim went to see the defendant regarding her behaviour. The defendant continued to be abusive and picked up a chair, in fear for his safety the victim grabbed the chair and threw it. The defendant then tried to push the victim.