William ‘Billy’ Charlton, of Washington, pretended to be wanting to protect women but his true intention was to spread race hate
A vile protester is behind bars after he was convicted of stirring up racial hatred with poisonous lies during a series of public speeches.
William “Billy” Charlton, who spoke alongside far right extremist Tommy Robinson, hid behind the cloak of respectability of wanting to protect women from sexual assault.
But his true intention was to disseminate hate-filled falsehoods about immigrants, Asians, black people and the police, a court heard.
Prosecutors said his words sparked incidents of violence and damage by others attending the marches, including an occasion in which two innocent Asian men were attacked by a group of white men.
During his trial, jurors were told about footage from a “white man march” on Newcastle Quayside at which Charlton spoke.
The footage showed other people chanting things such as “white power”, “Hitler was right” “sieg heil” and “keep it white”, the court heard.
Charlton, 55, of Byland Court, Glebe, Washington , also made sickening references to the Grenfell Tower fire – saying “it’s not cheap cladding that raped (a female)” and adding it’s “immigrants who are a threat to our children”.
He was found guilty of five charges of stirring up racial hatred and faces a prison sentence.
He was remanded in custody ahead of being sentenced on Friday – despite pleading that he had a dog at home on its own.
During the trial, Sharon Beattie, prosecuting, told jurors about a number of speeches Charlton gave around the theme of the protection of women from sexual assault.
She said: “This was his cause and his motivation, as he described it, to protect women in Sunderland from rape and sexual violence.
“No one, one would hope, would argue against that but in reality, say the prosecution, this was an excuse because Mr Charlton is an intelligent man and a good speaker and this supposed cause was hiding his true intention under a cloak of respectability.
“His true intentions, say the prosecution, were to stir people up against immigrants, Asians, black people and the police.”
Miss Beattie said jurors would have to consider the issue of free speech but added that it is not free speech if it is an offence.
She told the jury: “Mr Charlton is not prosecuted for speaking in public, he is being prosecuted for using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, intending to stir up racial hatred.”
The court heard that following some of the speeches, there were incidents of graffiti and property being damaged. One property was attack where it was believed a rapist lived but in fact others lived there.
In another incident, an Asian man who happened to live in a particular area, was attacked and when his nephew came to help him, he was also beaten up, the court heard.
Miss Beattie said: “This violence was from people who had been listening to the speech and were involved in a march which preceded it.”
The prosecutor said when one woman attended a demonstration with a placard saying “rape doesn’t have a race”, she had to be escorted away by police for her own protection because of the reaction of the crowd.
Charlton is said to have posted a picture of her on Facebook calling her an idiot.
Miss Beattie said the five charges “arise out of a series of speeches by Billy Charlton” which were streamed on Facebook and picked up by Rebel Media, “used by or linked to Tommy Robinson”.
The jury were told about one march in Sunderland , organised after allegations surfaced about three Turkish men, during which Charlton is alleged to have said: “Standing in Sunderland city centre feels like I’m in Bangladesh” and made reference to “imported rapists”.
In another speech he said “these people who are guests in my town raping and drugging our women, they are monsters, there’s something wrong in this town”.
The court heard Charlton denied being racist but, Miss Beattie said: “He said he doesn’t care about the colour of anyone’s skin but he doesn’t address any other issue other than immigrants.
“85% of people arrested for sexual offences are white in Sunderland – he doesn’t address that either.”
Charlton is also said to have criticised Northumbria Police, saying at one march, in reference to the force’s slogan “proud to protect”: “Proud to protect. Not your children, they are not. Not my children they are not. Who are they protecting?” The crowd responded: “Immigrants.”
Prosecutors say his verbal attacks on the police were designed to tell people the police couldn’t protect them so they had to protect themselves.
Referring to a Facebook post about an allegation made by a woman, Miss Beattie told jurors: “The prosecution say Mr Charlton was not genuinely motivated by concern in relation to these women, he was motivated by an agenda relating to immigrants.
“He was stirring up racial hatred.”
At another march, he is said to have told the crowd his and their children and women “deserve protection from these immigrants”, the court heard.
The court heard about comments Charlton is said to have made to a police superintendent, a month after the Grenfell fire, saying it was “not cheap cladding that raped (a female)”, adding “it’s immigrants who are a threat to our children.”
Miss Beattie said in May 2017, a young student in Sunderland city centre witnessed Charlton abusing Asian people, saying: “Get out of my Sunderland, get out, this is my country.”
The prosecutor told the jury: “There was no suggestion they were committing sexual offences so why would he be shouting at these two males.
“That, say the prosecution, is his real agenda.”