Burger van owner convicted of public order offence over anti-Islamic comments
A BURGER van owner told an unsuspecting customer the police should be prosecuting Muslims, not speeders.
When the customer then refused to read anti-Islamic literature offered to him by the van's owner, 73-year-old Jim Gardiner, the pensioner refused to serve him, and bluntly told him to "do one," a court heard.
At Carlisle's Rickergate magistrates court, former merchant seaman Gardiner, of White Ox Way, Penrith, denied a racially aggravated public order offence on January 24.
He was convicted after a two hour trial.
The court heard how Gardiner's customer, a landscape gardener, arrived at the defendant's “Ship's Galley” burger van on the Gilwilly Industrial Estate in a rush because he was due to take a speed awareness course.
He described how the defendant then began talking to him, saying that such courses were a waste of time. “He said it was the Muslims and Pakistanis in Manchester and London who were the problem, and not people like us,” said the man.
These comments were interspersed with swear words, he said. The man told the court: “I was gobsmacked because I'd just asked for a sausage sandwich. I didn't know how we'd got on to Muslims and Pakistanis.”
He said Gardiner spoke about Muslim “no-go” zones in Manchester and he had challenged this, saying it was an urban myth. “I didn't want to talk about it – I just wanted to eat my lunch,” said the man.
He described how the pensioner had then lifted some sauce bottles on his counter, pulled out some laminated sheets of paper, and handed them to him, saying: “Read this if you want to educate yourself.”
When the customer refused, Gardiner told him: “Then you're in the wrong place if you want food from me.”
Defence lawyer Simon Farnsforth, for Gardiner, asked the customer if he had strong views about religion and Muslims, and he replied: “I have a strong view that everyone is entitled to follow their faith.”
The court heard that in his police interview, Gardiner said he believed that Muslims were taking over and that they hate Christians. He also said he believed not enough was being done to “quell” them.
Asked what he would do if a Muslim came to his burgher van, he replied: “I'd give them a bacon butty and laugh.”
In his evidence, he confirmed that he had never before been in trouble with the law. He claimed that the man seemed “agitated.”
He admitted saying to him: “You're in the wrong place – do one.” The pensioner went on to claim that “colourful language” was freely used by his customers. “It's part and parcel of a working man's life,” he said.
Asked if he had strong views about Muslims, he replied: “I have strong views about Islam.” He agreed that he was very wary of Muslims.
Announcing the guilty verdict and their acceptance of the customer's evidence, chairman of the magistrates Peter Baird told the defendant that the magistrates regarded the chief prosecution witness as credible.
He said: "It is just not believable that he would make this up, report it to the police, and appear in court for the sake of not getting a sausage sandwich.”
Gardiner was fined £127, with a £30 victim surcharge, and ordered to pay £50 compensation to Mr Palmer. He must also pay £620 prosecutions costs.
After the case, Mr the man who testified against Gardiner said what he said that day had amounted to "hate speech”.
He added: “If he was willing to say that me me, a man in his mid 40s, you have to wonder about the effect on somebody more vulnerable. There should be zero tolerance of any sort of hate speech.
“It just breeds division – and it's absolutely counter-productive.”
The News & Star checked out Gardiner's Facebook page, and found it contains numerous lurid and obscene anti-Islamic posts, including one that urged mounted police officers in London to “trample” Muslim protesters to death.