Welwyn Garden City man sentenced for religiously aggravated attack
PUBLISHED: 09:24 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:30 21 November 2018
Two young men, one of whom is from Welwyn Garden City, have been sentenced for hurling Islamic abuse while punching and kicking their dark-haired victim - who was not in fact Muslim.
Their victim was an Italian bartender who was walking home from work.
A bottle was thrown at the lone man, who was chased and surrounded after midnight, as the group shouted: “F***ing Muslim” and “Go back to your own country.”
The attack in London by three men, one of whom has never been identified, took place in London on 10 June last year.
Warehouseman Alfred Young, 19, of Harwood Hill, Welwyn Garden City, pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated assault.
He received a 12-month community order, which includes 80 hours community service; a six-week night time curfew and £125 compensation to the victim.
His co-accused, jobless butcher Joshua O’Leary, 23, of Teak Close, Rotherhithe, pleaded not guilty to the same offence but was unanimously convicted by the jury at Inner London Crown Court.
He received a 12-month community order, which includes 180 hours community service work; 20 days rehab; a 12-week night time curfew and £125 compensation to the victim.
It was after midnight when the victim, Dario Antonioni was confronted after exiting Canada Water Underground Station.
“They were shouting at me for no reason, things like: ‘F***ing Muslim. Muslim go home’ all three of them,” he told the trial.
“A bottle was thrown at me and I started walking quickly and then started to run.
“I was frightened.
“The three of them surrounded me.
“I fell to the ground and I was struck everywhere by all three of them.
“I said: ‘What are you doing? Why are you doing this?’ and I was speaking to them in Italian, but they increased the shouting.
“They wanted to beat me up.
“Their hands were raised as if they were ready for a fight.
“All three of them hit me, kicks and punches and when I was on the floor there were more kicks and punches.
“Luckily I was able to run away from them into a kebab shop.
“They continued using obscene language like: ‘Motherf***er and go back to your own country.’
“I had grazes on my face and bruises on my elbows and knees from where I had fallen.
“It was a shocking experience.”
Judge Benedict Kelleher told Young and O’Leary as he sentenced them : “You were both in the street near Surrey Quays with an older man and you had both been drinking when you confronted an Italian man in his twenties, who was walking home doing no harm.
“Due to your prejudice and ignorance and because he had a small beard you all thought he was a Muslim and shouted abuse at him.
“The older man appears to have been the ringleader and all three of you set upon the victim, punching and grappling with him.
“He put up a spirited defence to your completely unjustified attack late at night while under the influence of alcohol.
“You based your hostility on the mistaken presumption of your victim’s religion.”
The judge told O’Leary: “You were not the leader, but were not subordinate and you have not shown remorse.
“You contested this case, which was close to crossing the custodial threshold.
“You are on the brink of getting yourself involved with dangerous influences and if you succumb to them you will find yourself back in court for more serious offences that may carry imprisonment.
“I am giving you the chance to show you can put this type of behaviour behind you.”
The judge told Young: “You were 17 when this incident occurred and you have no previous convictions and much good has been said about you in the pre-sentence report and you have a bright future ahead of you.
“It was a relatively sustained attack, but you were by no means the leader of the group and it was not pre-meditated.”
Prosecutor Kerry Moore told the jury: “Mr Antonioni is not a Muslim.
“He had a dark beard at the time and dark hair and in the early hours these three may have thought he was from an Islamic country.
“O’Leary was arrested returning to that area, as was Young.
“The third male was never identified, but we say they were all together in this attack.”