A PROTESTER has been convicted of shouting racist abuse from the top of a bus leaving a demonstration against a planned new mosque in Astley Bridge.
Shaun Jones had been at a demonstration led by the North West Infidels at the site of the proposed mosque in Blackburn Road on on Saturday, August 2, last year.
After the protest, Jones was seen to racially abuse a group of Asian men after poking his head through the roof of the bus and gesticulating at the crowd.
Jones left but police circulated his description and he was promptly arrested.
The 34-year-old, of Cromwell Road, Eccles, pleaded guilty to the charge at Bolton Magistrates Court.
He was conditionally discharged for three years and ordered to pay £415 costs.
Jones had previously denied the charges but changed his plea, with the period of his conditional discharge rising from two to three years because it was racially aggravated.
Ch Supt Shaun Donnellan said: “There is no place for any type of racist behaviour, especially those individuals who use the guise of a peaceful protest as a way of verbally attacking our community.
“Any reports made to police will be thoroughly investigated and positive action will be taken.”
Dozens of protestors attended the rally organised by the far right group the North West Infidels.
It was the second large-scale demonstration at the site of the application made by Taiyabah Islamic Centre, with dozens of police officers deployed to control the protests.
Hundreds of members of the local community also took to the streets.
Plans were approved by Bolton Council in July at a meeting which was disrupted by angry protesters from campaigners when the decision was made.
Councillors had to be escorted from the Festival Hall at Bolton Town Hall while the protesters were escorted out.
Cllr Guy Harkin, who represents Crompton ward, said: “Some of the behaviour at the protests was obscene and disgusting.
“I am very pleased that there has been a conviction and regret that there have not been more, although I understand that the police have to keep the peace and it is very difficult to gather evidence in this sort of melee.”
The plot of land just off Canning Street has been earmarked for a mosque, complete with a dome, minaret tower and 19 classrooms.
Those behind the proposals say the new building will bridge the gap between “negative perceptions” of Islam and the faith’s true meaning.