CPS Wessex: Successful Hate Crime Cases
September 2023 edition
Prosecutors from CPS Wessex routinely secure successful outcomes in a variety of hate crime cases across the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts in Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and Wiltshire.
Under hate crime legislation, courts must pass an increased sentence where the prosecutor has evidenced that criminal offences either demonstrate or have been motivated by hostility towards a person’s race, religion, disability, transgender identity or sexuality. This is known as a “sentence uplift”.
We’ve picked out a selection of the hate crime cases we’ve prosecuted recently to demonstrate how seriously we take such cases, ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice and receive increased penalties.
In most hate crime cases prosecuted by CPS Wessex, defendants enter guilty pleas. This means that the case didn’t have to go to trial and victims and witnesses did not need to attend court to give evidence.
All defendants in our case studies below received an increased sentence to reflect the seriousness of the hate crime they had committed.
In a case prosecuted at Southampton Magistrates’ Court, a woman was charged with a public order offence after she became aggressive at a day centre and called a member of staff homophobic names. She was found guilty of the offence after a trial, and sentenced to an 18-month community order, which the court said would have been 12 months had it not been for the abusive homophobic language that she used towards the victim. The woman was also sentenced to 30 days Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and ordered to pay £50 in compensation to the victim.
In another case prosecuted in Southampton, a man sent abusive and threatening text messages to his ex-partner over a period of time, some of which were homophobic in nature. The victim reported the messages to the police and the defendant was charged with a Communications Act offence by the CPS.
The defendant pleaded guilty at court and was sentenced to a 12-month community order. As part of the order, he had to complete 15 days of a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, attend a drugs rehabilitation programme for 12 weeks, and complete 100 hours of unpaid work. The court said they would have given him 60 hours unpaid work, but increased the penalty by 40 hours to reflect the seriousness of the hate crime he had committed.
At Salisbury Magistrates’ Court, a man was prosecuted after he was heard by members of the public using homophobic language in the street. He pleaded guilty to a public order offence and was fined £80. The court said they imposed a higher fine under the Sentencing Guidelines to reflect the hate crime element.
In another homophobic hate crime case prosecuted at Salisbury Magistrates’ Court, a man pleaded guilty to two public order offences after he shouted homophobic abuse at a couple whilst they were out walking. He was fined £1153, which the court said would have been a lower amount but for the seriousness of the hate crime element of the offending.
Prosecutors also dealt with a case at Salisbury Magistrates’ Court where a non-league football player punched an opposing player and homophobically abused him during a match. He pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. The court said they would have given him a community order, but the hate crime element made it so serious that it crossed the custody threshold. The man was also ordered to complete 20 days of a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and ordered to pay £930 in compensation to the victim.
In a transphobic hate crime case prosecuted at Swindon Magistrates’ Court, a man pleaded guilty to a public order offence after he shouted transphobic abuse at a trans-woman in the High Street. The man was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 25 days Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, as well as ordered to attend a drug rehabilitation programme for six months. The court said they increased his fine from £100 to £200 to reflect how serious this hate crime case was.
In a case prosecuted at Bournemouth Crown Court, a man pleaded guilty to two public order offences and admitted breaching a Criminal Behaviour Order. He was drunk and causing a disturbance at Poole Quay in breach of his Criminal Behaviour Order, and when arrested by police, shouted racist and disablist language at an officer. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, which the Judge said was increased from 10 months to reflect the abusive language he used as part of the hate crime.
At Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court recently, a man was prosecuted for damaging items in a shop, threatening to break the shop’s window and for racially abusing employees. He pleaded guilty to criminal damage, threatening to cause criminal damage and a Communications Act offence. The court recognised that his crimes were motivated by hate and doubled part of his custodial sentence to reflect the seriousness of his actions. In total he was imprisoned for three months.
And finally this month, in a case prosecuted at Poole Magistrates’ Court, a woman pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence after she racially abused a community safety officer. She was sentenced to six week’s imprisonment, which the court announced was uplifted from four weeks to reflect the seriousness of the hate crime.