A campaign of abuse targeted at members of Kent’s Muslim community has led to the conviction of a man and woman for religiously-aggravated harassment.
Britain First leaders Jayda Fransen, 32, and Paul Golding, 36, both from Penge in south-east London, were arrested together on Wednesday 10 May 2017 following a number of incidents in the Thanet area.
Videos had been posted online in which Fransen claimed to be exposing four offenders who were on trial at the time for raping a teenage girl at a flat in Northwood Road, Ramsgate. Leaflets about the case had also been distributed to members of the public.
The following incidents were all connected to the trial:
On Friday 5 May 2017, Golding filmed Fransen attempting to enter a fast food restaurant in Northwood Road and shouting abuse at the people inside, which included a man, a woman and two teenage girls. None of those targeted were involved in the trial or had committed any criminal offences.
On the evening of Tuesday 9 May Fransen banged on the front door of a house and shouted abuse while a woman and her two young children were inside. A video of the incident was later posted online.
On Wednesday 10 May a vulnerable Canterbury man learned that a video had been posted online in which his address was wrongly identified as the home of one of the men on trial. Leaflets entitled ‘Exposing Muslim Rapist’ had also been posted through his front door and those of his neighbours. The man was forced to move as a result.
Fransen and Golding stood trial at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court in January. The chairman of the bench reserved judgement until Wednesday 7 March when he found Fransen guilty of three counts of religiously aggravated harassment and Golding of one count.
Fransen was sentenced to nine months in prison and Golding was sentenced to four-and-a-half months in prison.
Detective Inspector Bill Thornton of Kent Police said: “The crimes committed by Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were abhorrent and motivated by religious insensitivities.
“They claimed to be exposing the men who had been accused of rape when in reality they knew little about the case in question and could have put the trial at risk due to their reckless actions.
“It was the bravery of the female who was attacked and the tireless work of Kent Police detectives who ensured the men responsible are now serving a significant period of time behind bars, not because of any misguided attempt by Golding and Fransen to claim credit for their conviction by bringing religion into the equation.
“The fact that completely innocent members of the public were accused of being rapists, making them fear for their own safety, shows how little regard they have for the consequences of their actions.
“Kent Police simply will not tolerate any offences that are motivated by prejudice and hate, and will investigate all such incidents thoroughly in order to bring those responsible in front of the courts.”