William ‘Billy’ Charlton, of Washington, was branded a manipulative bully by a judge as he was locked up for stirring up racial hatred
Unrepentant racist bully Billy Charlton shouted at jurors “I hope your daughters don’t get raped” and gave his supporters the thumbs up as he was jailed for spreading his toxic lies in a series of public speeches.
Vile and manipulative Charlton hid behind the cloak of respectability of wanting to protect women and children from sexual assault but his true intention was to disseminate hate-filled falsehoods about immigrants, Asians, black people and the police.
The 55-year-old, of Byland Court, Glebe, Washington , was convicted on Thursday of five counts of stirring up racial hatred after a series of speeches in Sunderland.
He was brought back to Newcastle Crown Court on Friday to be sentenced and five members of the jury returned to watch the conclusion of the case.
After spending most of the hearing staring intently at them, he shouted the vile comment towards the four women and a man as he was led away to prison and was told by a judge: “Just leave Mr Charlton”.
He then clapped his hands and gave the thumbs up to his supporters in the public gallery, who clapped as he was taken out of the dock to start a 21 month jail sentence.
Judge Edward Bindloss told him: “Over this three-and-a-half week trial you have been revealed as an intelligent, articulate, skilled public speaker but also a manipulator and bully, in my judgement.”
The judge said Charlton had used an allegation of rape, kidnap and drugging by a female – which was investigated and which police found insufficient evidence of – to spread his racist lies.
“You propelled the campaign (for the female) with rhetoric and misrepresentation and, the jury has found, with racist hatred,” Judge Bindloss said.
Charlton had been warned by senior police officers the comments he was making about the female were wrong, counter-productive and doing damage to the community.
Despite the fact more than 80% of sexual offending in Sunderland was committed by white men, the judge said: “In the five speeches, you conflated all immigrants with rapes and sexually offending, thus peddling racist hatred basted around falsehoods.”
The five speeches took place between November 2016 and July 2017 and drew bigger and bigger crowds, forcing hundreds of police officers to be diverted from their usual duties.
At one event, 800 people were present, including 32 Hells Angels.
Judge Bindloss told him: “Time and again you associated immigrants with sexual offending. This is a pernicious form of racial hatred.”
The judge said freedom of speech is a “fundamental freedom” and told him Charlton: “This is not about politics, it’s about the law. I’ve sought to keep the law and politics separate.
“You are not on trial for your political views or being a member of any party.
“Even your anti-imimigration views, you are entitled to hold.
“The jury has found your speeches were intended to or likely to stir up racial hatred.
“The speeches contributed to a toxic atmosphere by you stirring up racial hatred.”
The court heard that while Charlton was not responsible for them, a number of race-hate incidents were happening in Sunderland around the time of the speeches.
An Asian family had a brick thrown through their window with a note attached containing racist abuse and signed “EDL forever”.
Racist graffiti also appeared and a man was arrested wearing a T-shirt with an anti-Muslim T-shirt slogan.
The court heard Charlton had a previous conviction from 2007 for racially aggravated harassment, for which he was fined.
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.
At one of the events, Charlton appeared alongside far right extremist Tommy Robinson.
Charlton 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”.
Glenn Gatland, defending, said Charlton had what he considered to be genuine concerns and frustrations which had “boiled over into what can only be described by the jury as racism” and had “overstepped the mark”.
Mr Gatland added: “It’s not a case like Abu Hamza where people are preaching outright hatred on the grounds of racism.
“It starts with a genuine complaint and concern. There are genuine concerns about what he perceives to be a cover up by the police, rightly or wrongly.”
Mr Gatland added that Charlton is “not in particularly good health”, had to give up work because of problems with his knees and will find prison difficult.
He added: “He is extremely upset his 92-year-old mother is not very well, she will not be able to visit him.”
After the case, Chief Inspector Sam Rennison, of Northumbria Police, said Charlton’s actions were an attempt to fuel “hatred and unrest” in the city.
“Freedom of speech is an important element of modern society which we all advocate, but spreading hate and racism is totally unacceptable,” Ch Insp Rennison said.
“Billy Charlton attempted to disguise his racist agenda under a cloak of respectability by claiming to want to protect the women of Sunderland.
“He knowingly targeted a number of ethnic groups and immigrants at high-profile marches in the city centre, and in doing so, stirred up hatred.
“He then pushed that personal agenda further by circulating misinformation on social media for his own gain.
“However, today his calculated behaviour and attempts to spread hatred and unrest in our community have been laid bare.
“We must do all we can to stamp out racism and the spreading of hate. As a Force, we are committed to tackling all forms of extremism which has the potential to threaten the safety and security of the public.
“I am glad that the jury understood and recognised the seriousness of Charlton’s crimes, and he must now deal with the consequences of his actions.”