TWO men who hurled a tirade of racial abuse at Muslims leaving a mosque in South Tyneside have been spared jail.
Brian Mackey and Steven Dryden went to a South Shields mosque after a night out in the town to air their racist views to worshippers who were leaving the building after late-night prayers.
Magistrates heard the duo filmed themselves on a mobile phone pledging their allegiance to far right group the English Defence League (EDL) during an onslaught of abuse outside the Baithul Mamur Jame Masjid Mosque, in Baring Street, South Shields.
The attack happened on September 5 last year after they had been discussing terrorism and religious extremism in Vogue nightclub, in nearby Ocean Road. Yesterday, the pair were back at South Tyneside Magistrates Court to be sentenced.
Bench chairwoman Dorothy Gibson gave each an 18-month community order and also made them subject to a curfew between 7pm and 7am for four months.
She told them: You cannot be proud of yourselves. It is only your previous good character that has saved you from jail.
Mackey, 26, of Emlyn Road, South Shields, and Dryden, 24, of Fife Avenue, Jarrow, both pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence when they appeared in court on January 28.
At that hearing, magistrates heard how the men did not believe they were being racist and were within their rights to air their political views.
Yesterday, their solicitor Jenny Coxon said: Mr Dryden acknowledges that his views can be seen as racist and understands how his actions are in line with the charge he has pleaded guilty to.
He said hes not going to join in with any EDL rallies again, because its those beliefs that got him where he is today.
Mr Mackey has the stronger views of the two, but they are something that both of them will work on with the probation service.