Woman arrested after abusing worshippers at Gillingham Mosque

An 85-year-old woman has this afternoon been arrested after abuse was hurled at Muslims outside Gillingham Mosque. The pensioner was handcuffed and taken away in a van by officers attending the Canterbury Street mosque for Friday prayers.

As worshippers gathered outside the venue, a woman at a nearby bus stop shouted: “go back to your own country”. The arrested woman, from the Maidstone Road area of Chatham, was taken away by officers at about 1.45pm and is now in police custody. A Kent Police spokesman said: “An 85 year old woman from Chatham was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.”

It comes as a man appeared in court this afternoon accused of raiding the same mosque in Gillingham. And another suspect remains in custody today over an alleged racist attack – also in Gillingham. Extra police patrols were outside Gillingham Mosque this afternoon as the force promised to take a hard line against reprisal attacks following the Woolwich terror murder.

The abusive woman had earlier been enjoying lunch with her husband at the nearby KFC restaurant before waiting at a bus stop opposite the religious building. One witness, who did not want to be named, said: “She just started shouting, calling them names and telling them to go back to their own country. Then someone started shouting back at her and it got worse, the shouting and swearing. The police then came over and she was arrested. They put her in a van and her husband had started wandering off down the road, I don’t think he wanted anything to do with it.”

Last night, a 27-year-old man was arrested after an assault outside a shop in Gillingham. Police were called to the High Street at about 5pm and arrested him on suspicion of racially aggravated assault, threats to damage property and a public order offence.  The man remains in police custody today.

A 45-year-old man appeared at Medway Magistrates’ Court this afternoon after an attack at Gillingham Mosque on Wednesday night. Andrew Grindlay, of Granville Road, Gillingham, pleaded not guilty to religiously aggravated criminal damage and burglary. He was released on bail after a 40-minute hearing and will next appear at the same court on Monday, July 22 when his case will be send to Crown court.

Kent Online, 24 May 2013