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Penrith man sentenced for religious comments

Carlisle Magistrates Court
Carlisle Magistrates Court

[A] burger van owner from Penrith has been found guilty after a trial at the magistrates court in Carlisle.

James Gardiner, 73, was charged with using threatening /abusive words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress, which was religiously aggravated, at Penrith on January 24, this year.

The court was told Gardiner was serving a customer at his van, The Ships Galley, in Penrith, while the customer, a business man from Penrith waited for his sausage sandwich, comments were made by Gardiner about Islam the customer found a leaflet on the counter which had a Muslim style sign printed on the page and referred to Islamic writings.

The customer said in court he was “gob smacked” by the remarks that the defendant made and did not agree with the comments Gardiner was making about the police and certain no-go areas in some cities, at that point the customer left, he did not receive the sandwich, the court was told Gardiner commented the customer should “read and educate himself,” the court was told Gardiner said “I think you’re eating at the wrong place and I’m not serving you.”

James Gardiner gave his address as White Ox Way, Penrith, Cumbria and told the court he has had van on Gilwilly Industrial Estate and on Ullswater road over a period of six-years, and customers from the estate sometimes use industrial language and abusive language allegedly about certain religions, do get used, he made a comment to the customer about Muslims, but really meant Islam, the literature was printed at home by him, and customers at the burger van could read it if they wanted to.

After over a one-hour deliberation by the justices Gardiner was found guilty, he was fined £127 with courts costs of £625 and a victim surcharge of £30, and compensation of £50 was awarded to the customer who gave evidence today.

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