A teenager found guilty of violent disorder following an attack on Kingston Mosque has been spared jail.
Henry Hunter, 19, was convicted last month after a gang of young men laid siege to a mosque in East Road, having previously attended a protest march against Muslim extremism, in November 2010. But he was acquitted of racially aggravated criminal damage.
At Kingston Crown Court this morning, Hunter, from Ashford in Middlesex, was sentenced to six months at a young offenders’ institute, suspended for 12 months. He was fined £1,000, given 250 hours of unpaid work, and handed a four month curfew order banning him from leaving his home on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights. Hunter was also given an exclusion order banning him from Kingston town centre for a year.
Before the sentence was passed, Hunter’s solicitor Michael Green told Recorder Roderick Fletcher that Hunter was a young man of previous good character who had not been in trouble before or after the mosque attack. Mr Green said Hunter’s attitude had changed considerably in the two years since the attack, and he was now also holding down a job as a fork lift truck driver.
He contrasted Hunter’s police record with those of Martin Pottle and Alfie Wallace, who, along with David Morris, were all jailed for the attack in April. Mr Green said Pottle had four previous public order offences and had been sentenced to six months in prison for affray in 2010. Wallace had convictions for violence, robbery, criminal damage, assaulting a police officer and racially aggravated offences.
Mr Green also pointed to the fact Hunter handed himself into the police voluntarily, after his picture appeared on the front page of the Surrey Comet in the wake of the convictions of Pottle, Wallace and Morris.
Mr Green said: “This is a young man who handed himself into a police station after his picture was published in the Surrey Cometon the same day. His attitudes have changed considerably, his personal circumstances have changed considerably. He hopes to be given the opportunity to carry on working. Things have changed in terms of his employment, and in terms of his attitude. There are no new offences. The author of the pre-sentence report has spoken to the police and there is no suggestion he has been involved in any previous activity.”
Sentencing Hunter, Recorder Fletcher said: “You surrendered voluntarily to the police, you are currently in employment and you have a stable home environment. You’ve made important changes to your lifestyle and attitude in the past two years.”
“I’ve felt able to take a different course in your case to the course taken regarding Mr Pottle and Mr Wallace. Mr Pottle was substantially older than you, and Mr Wallace was marginally older than you. Both were convicted of two offences – violent disorder and religiously aggravated damage to property and both had relevant previous convictions.
“In these circumstances I’ve taken what could be considered as an unusual course in relation to your sentence.”
For coverage of the aftermath of the Kingston Mosque attack and how the community came together visitwww.surreycomet.co.uk/news/kingstonmosqueattack