Man who hurled racist abuse gets community service order

The two men leaving their home on Parkmount Street in north Belfast after racist attacks at the weekend. Picture by Cliff Donaldson 
The two men leaving their home on Parkmount Street in north Belfast after racist attacks at the weekend. Picture by Cliff Donaldson 

A NORTH Belfast man convicted of incitement to hatred towards Pakistanis living on his street has been ordered to carry out 150 hours community service.

John Montgomery was handed the sentence on Tuesday for verbal abuse said to have been directed at two men in the aftermath of an attack on their home in June 2014.

The 59-year-old had denied racially taunting the victims, but was found guilty by a judge who heard he had gone into their house on Parkmount Street, in the loyalist Tiger's Bay area, following the earlier incident.

Belfast Magistrates' Court was told previously that a crowd had gathered on the street as media crews reported on the property's window being smashed.

Mohammad Asif Khattak wept in the dock as he recalled the insults he said were hurled by a crowd of up to 10 people.

"They were calling us Paki b*******, dirty Arabs (and) saying, 'Get out of our street, get out of our country'," he said.

Mr Khattak claimed a man in a blue football top, alleged to have been Montgomery, was involved in the abuse.

Asked why he believed he was targeted by the group, the victim replied that it was racially motivated and carried out by "super conservative-minded people in society".

Montgomery, of Parkmount Street, had accepted going into Mr Khattak's house, but insisted he was only trying to remove two or three other men who had entered.

He was not accused of any involvement in the earlier attack on the house or an alleged physical assault carried out by another unidentified man.

Instead, he was charged only of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour intending to stir up hatred or arouse fear, contrary to the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987.

He denied hearing or using any racial abuse on the day, claiming to have been among a group out having a "nosy" at the TV cameras on the street.

At a contested hearing in May he said he went into the house to get others to leave after his wife informed him they had kicked the door in.

He claimed to have acted due to his role as a local community worker, adding: "I have a wee bit of respect in the area."

Insisting the incident had nothing to do with ethnicity or racial hatred, he told the court: "There is no way I used the word Paki or anything of the sort."

But having convicted Montgomery of the charge against him, District Judge Ken Nixon has now decided he is suitable for unpaid work.

The Courts Service confirmed Mr Nixon ordered him to complete the 150 hours community service within a 12-month period.