A carer who wrote “EDL” and drew a religious cross on the wall of a mosque has been found guilty of aggravated criminal damage.
Andrew Baldwin, from Fitzrovia, admitted daubing the three letters – representing the far right English Defence League group – and the cross on the wall of the Muslim World League (MWL) building in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, on December 10 and again on March 5. The 38-year-old, who is a full-time carer for his father, also admitted destroying a CCTV sign attached to the building on March 26. However, he denied a further charge that his actions were motivated by racial or religious hatred.
Giving evidence at Highbury Magistrates’ Court last Thursday, Baldwin said he was not an EDL member, but replied “yes” when asked by prosecutor Jonathan Efemini whether he supported the group. He said his graffiti had been aimed at “wrong’uns” rather than Muslims in general, adding: “Anyone going into that building to do their business and pray to their god, it’s not aimed at them. It’s aimed at the other types.”
Baldwin said he had wanted the message to be seen by “people who abuse our soldiers, burn poppies and commit terrorism on our train system”. In a police interview played to the court, Baldwin said he had ripped down the CCTV sign because he had been “having a bad day, I suppose”.
Defending, Dan O’Callaghan said Mr Baldwin had “never denied the basic fact of what happened” and had been “consistent in his representations that this was not religiously aggravated”. He added: “It was unwise and unpleasant to do it [graffiti] on the building he did it on, but what we say is the motive required under section 38 of the Crime and Disorder Act simply did not exist in this case.”
Judge Anthony Martin said Mr Baldwin’s evidence had been “inconsistent”, adding: “In our view that graffiti would offend a class of people rather than particular individuals.” He also said there was no evidence to suggest anyone who used the MWL building was involved in terrorism or the other acts cited by Baldwin.
In a statement read to the court at the start of the trial, Dr Ahmed Makhdoom, director of the MWL building, described the graffiti as “very disturbing”. He added: “I do not want this man [Mr Baldwin] to go to prison. I want him to understand what we do.”
Sentencing will take place on May 12.