A SELF-PROCLAIMED EDL member who racially abused two Grimsby shop workers and smashed in a window walked free from court – because his co-accused “had not faced the right charge”.
Mathew Burton, of Durban Road, Grimsby, pleaded guilty to racially abusing Kanaganayagan Thirumurugan and Kanaganayagam Thirukumaran at Today’s Local Store, in Victoria Street, on Wednesday, September 30, 2015.
He was also charged with causing £500 of criminal damage to the shop window.
Grimsby Magistrates’ Court heard that Burton racially abused and taunted the two victims.
The court heard the 27-year-old shouted racist abuse before saying “get out of the country. I am a member of the EDL.
“I will close your shop.”
CCTV footage from the shop was seized by police.
The complainant served Burton despite being abused and did not retaliate, Karen Tunicliffe, prosecuting, said.
Having left the shop after buying a packet of cigarettes, Burton then returned with Nathan Meadows, who was wearing a jumper with EDL on the back.
The pair started to become aggressive as they waited at the back of a queue, with Meadows shouting “I will brick your face and smash your face up”.
Meadows spat on the floor and then appeared to spit towards the man behind the counter, before pushing items off the counter, the court heard.
Meadows then threw and landed seven or eight punches.
They left the store and Meadows was seen to lash out at the window of a passing bus.
The two of them then caused the glass to shatter on the shop’s window.
Meadows, 27, of Convamore Road, was given a 12-month conditional discharge at an earlier hearing, having been charged with using threatening or abusive words or behaviour.
Two other charges were dismissed after no evidence was offered.
Burton originally pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea before the case went to trial.
He carried out the offence while on bail for motoring offences, the prosecution said.
Mark McNeil, mitigating, said his client accepted what he did was unacceptable, adding that drink had impinged his decision making.
“He accepts he is easily led and often falls to peer pressure in a need to impress others,” he said.
He added: “I am not belittling the nature of the offence, but I am somewhat confused the co-accused was sentenced in the manner he was.
“One would say the co-accused was more culpable. He seems to be the main protagonist and yet he walked away with a conditional discharge.”
Deputy district judge Derek French described Burton’s behaviour as “absolutely despicable”.
“There is no way the charge against the co-accused was the right charge,” he added.
“If the co-accused did not go into custody then you shouldn’t either.
“You have been very fortunate today, you should have gone to prison.”
He was handed a six-month sentence, suspended for 12 months and was given 20 days of rehabilitation activity requirement.
He was also ordered to pay £250 compensation to the complainant, £500 to repair the window, an £80 victims’ surcharge and £85 prosecution costs.