Man admits pulling niqab off Muslim woman in Sunderland
Court hears Peter Scotter yelled ‘you’re in our country now’ at victim, who was in shopping centre with nine-year-old son
A man has admitted pulling a niqab off a woman in a shopping centre and yelling racist abuse at her.
Peter Scotter, 55, of Roker, Sunderland, appeared at Newcastle crown court to admit racially aggravated assault by beating and a separate charge of racially aggravated harassment.
Both offences were based on Scotter’s hostility towards a particular religious group, namely Islam, the court heard.
Tony Hawks, defending, said Scotter had been diagnosed with a serious cancerous tumour under his tongue last week and was due to have an operation next Monday. “I have seen some documentation showing that the diagnosis is pretty bad,” the barrister said.
The judge, Stephen Earl, said he would sentence Scotter later, once he had heard more details about the diagnosis. The judge said: “This is a custodial-band sentence, given his record and the nature of his actions.”
A previous hearing at Sunderland magistrates court heard how Scotter left his victim terrified when he attacked her in July.
Laura Lax, prosecuting, told the hearing the woman was waiting with her nine-year-old son for her husband outside a store in Bridges shopping centre in Sunderland when a man “purposefully” walked towards her and grabbed her niqab.
The force he used almost threw her to the ground and the niqab came away from her face, exposing her and causing pain to her neck.
She remembered being scared but was so shocked she could not remember what was said, magistrates were told. The niqab was damaged, but she has since repaired it.
Lax told the court the victim said afterwards: “This incident has left me scared to go out and I don’t want to go into town again. I am disgusted my nine-year-old son had to witness this.”
Another witness heard Scotter shout: “Here, take that fucking off, you are in our country now, you stupid fucking Muslim.”
When a police officer arrived, Scotter was being spoken to by a security guard and the defendant tried to walk away.
Scotter was heard to say: “Our Britain, you live by our fucking rules,” before coming out with more racist abuse.
He continued to make derogatory comments when he was interviewed after his arrest, Lax said.
When he attended previous hearings about the niqab offence, Scotter made a middle finger gesture to photographers outside court.
He has 66 previous convictions for 157 offences, including actual bodily harm, breaching a football banning order and racially aggravated criminal damage.
Scotter had been due to stand trial for the niqab offences next month.
The judge told Scotter he would be sentenced in three weeks’ time and granted him conditional bail.
As Scotter left court, he declined to answer why he was covering his face with a scarf and gestured defiantly to waiting photographers.