A man has admitted mocking a Muslim prayer ritual and hurling racial insults during a fundraiser for Help for Heroes that sparked a five-hour stand-off with police in St George on the weekend. Lee Cousins, 40, of Soundwell Road, Soundwell pleaded guilty to causing racially/religiously aggravated harassment or alarm following the unrest on Saturday evening.
Magistrates at Bristol heard that Cousins was amongst a group of men who had come out of the St George’s Hall public house in Church Road after initially barricading themselves in when police arrived. Cousins then mocked a Muslim prayer ritual by getting down on his hands and knees in the road before shouting racial slurs involving Muslims and Allah.
Cousins, who represented himself, said: “I was very drunk and I apologise for my behaviour. I was extremely drunk – I apologise if I offended anyone.” He was fined £500 and ordered to pay £85 costs plus a £15 victim surcharge.
Cousins was one of four men who appeared at court yesterday morning charged with offences relating to the weekend’s disturbances. Jason Bennett, 39, of Witchell Road, Redfield; Luke Selman, 23, of Green Close, Horfield; and Andrew Carlisle, 45, of Windermere Way, Bridgeyate, also appeared at court.
In total 19 men have been arrested and 12 charged but the quartet were the first to face the courts.
Bennett, 39, pleaded guilty to using threatening words or behaviour and was fined £50.
Selman pleaded guilty to using threatening words or behaviour towards PC Peter Crawford and PC Karen Stenner with intent to cause fear or provoke unlawful violence and to assaulting PC Stenner in the execution of her duty, and will be sentenced on June 17.
Finally Carlisle pleaded not guilty to using threatening words or behaviour with intent to cause fear or provoke unlawful violence and will face trial on August 22.
Siobhan Heron, prosecuting, explained that an event had been advertised on Facebook to raise money for armed forces charity Help for Heroes in the wake of the death of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich.
“It started peacefully in the Kingswood Royal British Legion Club where around 30 people gathered,” she said. “As the crowd made its way around Kingswood and then into St George around 60 people congregated in the St George’s Hall public house in Church Road.
“When police arrived a number of people used chairs and tables to make a barricade. They started singing England songs. Police formed a line outside and bottles and glasses were thrown at them.
“The atmosphere was described as hostile. A group of men came out of the pub. Cousins was one of them. He mocked a Muslim prayer ritual and got down on his hands and knees in the road.”
The court heard Cousins shouted racial slurs involving Muslims and Allah.
Ms Heron said that Bennett was intoxicated and had to be restrained by a female police officer as he was shouting various offensive swear words.
Bennett, who represented himself, said he was deeply sorry for his actions and said he had embarrassed himself and those around him. He was fined £50, ordered to pay £85 costs plus a £15 victim surcharge.
Ms Heron explained that Selman was part of a group who were escorted by police from the pub around 8.30pm, back up Church Road towards Kingswood.
“The defendant came to the attention of WPC Karen Stenner,” she said. “She repeatedly had to tell him to keep moving and he kept trying to hit her shield. The WPC said he grabbed hold of her shield, lunged forward and threw two punches at her.
“One hit her visor and made her feel extremely vulnerable as it fell down her face. PC Peter Crawford, who was standing next to her, helped to move Selman out of the way, who was still shouting and swearing at the officers.”
Diane Heys, defending, said Selman had not drunk to excess: “To his credit he accepts the evidence and pleads guilty at the earliest opportunity.”
The case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report. Selman was released on unconditional bail and will be sentenced on June 17.
Bennett left the court through the main entrance but the other defendants were later allowed to leave unseen by the back entrance.
Another eight people have been bailed to appear at court on specific dates in the coming weeks, while seven people have been released on bail pending further enquiries.