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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Carlisle man posted racial messages on city facebook page

A former National Front activist was arrested for posting abusive comments on a Facebook page devoted to part of Carlisle.

Thirty-year-old Kevin Hartness, of Borland Avenue, Botcherby, wrote messages “of a racial nature with a sinister tone”, Carlisle Magistrates’ Court heard.

Prosecutor Andy Travis said police were alerted by a member of the public about messages on a ‘Spotted Botch’ page.

The court heard how there were ‘disparaging remarks’ about Polish people, some criticising them and calling on them to leave the area. Others were anti-Semitic and about World War Two.

The court heard how some of the comments could be considered to “incite racial or religious hatred” so details of the case were sent by the local Crown Prosecution Service to the London office to consider the correct charge to bring against Hartness.

Hartness, who represented himself and admitted sending menacing messages over a communications network, told police that he “used to be an active member of the National Front but doesn’t hold their views now”.

He also told them he was a skinhead when he was about 13.

The court heard he had no idea what he wrote on the ‘Spotted Botch’ web page would be printed in full.

Mr Travis said there had been a mistake involving the “administrator” of the site and the posts [Hartness] sent in were printed in full without any alteration.

“All his comments were there for the public to view,” Mr Travis said.

Hartness said he thought the site was only for the people of Botcherby to air their views and make comments. “I’ve maybe got a misunderstanding of how the site works,” he said. “I thought I was just making comments for other people to get back to me, and have a whinge between folk on the estate.”

He said he admitted the comments he made about the Polish and the Jews and the war were unacceptable. “I don’t hold those views now and would like to apologise,” he told the court.

The court was told he has 15 previous convictions for 29 offences, some for football-related disorder.

Magistrates requested a pre-sentence report to be prepared by the probation service and the case was adjourned for sentencing until January 21.

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