SIX men with links to a controversial right-wing pressure group have been ordered to pay almost £6,000 for chanting a sickening torrent of religious abuse
EDL members outside Teesside Magistrates Court
The men, who are associated with the English Defence League (EDL), were sentenced at Teesside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
They were found guilty in August of shouting a highly inflammatory religious chant at Middlesbrough railway station.
Supporters of the men, some wearing EDL sweatshirts and carrying flags, gathered outside the court building yesterday as magistrates only allowed five people in the public gallery.
There was also a strong police presence both in and outside the court, along with mounted officers in Centre Square.
As reported, the group members – who all said they were associated to the EDL in some way – were convicted of religiously aggravated harassment and using threatening words or behaviour to cause harassment alarm or distress, after a two-day trial.
The incident happened at about 7.30pm on Saturday, December 10, after the group came to Middlesbrough to watch Boro play Brighton. But when they decided it was too cold, they visited several pubs in the town instead.
Trouble arose when the group arrived at the station and were heard by PC Andrew Ward, of British Transport Police, chanting EDL chants – as well as the highly inflammatory chant in question.
Addressing the defendants, Elizabeth Hutchinson, chairman of the bench, said: “It’s the court’s belief that you knew exactly what you were doing, that you deliberately set out to use racially abusive language and to intimidate members of the public.”
She added that the incident was aggravated by the fact that it was a group action which took place over a “length of time” where members of the public were present.
Between them, the defendants were fined £2,730 and ordered to pay £3,090 costs – adding up to £5,820. One person from the public gallery had to be escorted out by police after the sentencing.
Jak Beasley, 23, of Cedar Road, Bishop Auckland was fined £455 and ordered to pay £515 costs.
Ross Williams, 23, of Ebberston Court, Spennymoor, was fined £420 and ordered to pay £515 costs.
Christopher Caswell, 32, of West Auckland Road, Darlington, was fined £455 and ordered to pay £515 costs.
Paul Ross, 48, of Auckland Wind, Shildon, was fined £525 and ordered to pay £515 costs.
Dean Spence, 23, of Yew Close, Spennymoor, fined £455 and ordered to pay £515 costs.
Shaun Bunting, 33, of Fenhall Green, Newton Aycliffe, was fined £420 and ordered to pay £515 costs.
The EDL was formed in response to a protest in March 2009 organised by an Islamic group against troops returning from the war in Afghanistan.
The group states its aim is to demonstrate peacefully but conflicts with Unite Against Fascism and other opponents have led to street violence, anti-social behaviour and arrests.
In July last year, about 500 EDL supporters marched through Middlesbrough. The event, which was marked by a large police presence, passed off peacefully