An elderly woman admitted hurling abuse at Muslims when they arrived at their mosque for their Friday prayers.
Audrey Rose, who is 85, was with her husband Ron waiting for a bus outside the mosque in Canterbury Street, Gillingham, when she started hurling abuse at a man trying to cross the road to get into the religious building.
Rose, of Port Rise, Chatham, was one of three people charged with hate crimes in Medway in the wake of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby. Extra police officers had been outside the mosque at the time in a bid to prevent potential reprisal attacks.
The pensioner was arrested outside the mosque on Friday, May 24, after being repeatedly told by police to stop shouting abuse. She was handcuffed and put in a police van. She was later charged with racially aggravated harassment and admitted the offence when she appeared before magistrates in Medway.
The court heard how Rose started shouting abuse at one man about the way Muslims pray and also hurled further abuse about him leaving the country. Matthew Quantrill, prosecuting said: “On three occasions she was told to leave it by the officer, but would not stop and was arrested. She then poked him (the officer) with her finger and he got a scratch on the hand.”
During interview she told officers she could not remember the incident but was upset, and said she had friends in the Indian and black community.
Leanne Tompkins, defending, added that her client deeply regretted her actions that day, but didn’t entirely agree with the police’s version of events. Miss Tompkins added: “She deeply regrets upsetting the man at the bus stop, she is not a racist.”
Magistrates decided to give Rose a six month conditional discharge after hearing she had never been in trouble with the law before. She was also ordered to pay £50 court costs.
Gordon Walters, chairman of the bench said: “We need to be a bit more understanding of other people’s cultures, but we understand tensions were running high at the time. Nevertheless, people should be protected. You are 85-years-old with no previous and that’s amazing with what we see in the courts these days. Keep your nose clean for six months and count to 10 next time.”
Two others in Medway were charged with offences in the wake of Lee Rigby’s death.
Andrew Grindlay, 45, of Granville Road, Gillingham, was charged after the mosque was allegedly attacked on the night of Drummer Rigby’s death. He has appeared in court and denied charges of religiously aggravated criminal damage and burglary. Grindlay will appear at Medway Magisrates’ Court on Monday, July 22.
Separately, a man, 27, from Gillingham, has been charged with a public order offence and threats to commit criminal damage in relation to an incident in Gillingham High Street on Thursday, May 23. He has now been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.