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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Carlisle mum's fury at soldier son's racism claim

The furious mother of a soldier whose family was accused in court of raising him as a racist today hit back, declaring: “It’s not true.”

Deborah Ferguson photo
Deborah Ferguson with a photo of her son, Warren Butler

Warren Butler, 19, narrowly escaped being jailed for posting a racist comment on Facebook about three-year-old Mikaeel Kular whose body was found in Scotland a week after he went missing.

Butler’s drink-fuelled Facebook message said: “One down – many more to go.”

Knowing that their son had done such a dreadful thing was bad enough for Deborah Ferguson, 46, and her husband Gary, 45, who is Butler’s stepfather.

But they were hit by a second bombshell this week – an accusation levelled at them by their son’s defence solicitor in court.

“He has grown up in a racist family,” defence solicitor Fabienne Macey told Basingstoke Magistrates Court.

It was claimed that Butler was brought up to dislike people from non-white races.

“I’m so disappointed with our son - and so angry,” Mrs Ferguson told the News & Star after returning home early because a stranger - a young man - had burst into the shop where she works and yelled abuse at her.

“It was a young man,” said Mrs Ferguson, who also has a 24-year-old daughter. “He said I should be ashamed of myself.

“I was at work when I read what was said about us, and I burst into tears. I’m angry because we’ve been made out to be something we’re not.

“Neither of us is racists.

“I’m not racist, I’ll get on with anybody from any background. I was brought up in the care system and learned not to judge people.

“I certainly have never judged people because of the colour of their skin.

“Our next door neighbours are an Indian family, and they’re lovely people. This whole thing is very hurtful. I did everything I could to get Warren an Army career and this is how he repays us.”

Mrs Ferguson added she was disgusted and annoyed with what her said wrote.

“I never expected anything like that from my son. As a child, he was such a lovely little boy. He’s totally changed since he went into the Army. He’s got more opinions.

“On the day it happened,there were a lot of comments from people who were angry with him because he is a serving soldier. That night, his duty commanding officer rang me to say that he’d been arrested and was in police custody.

“I was still angry with him, but relieved also that he had done the right thing by handing himself in.”

In court, Butler admitted improper use of a communications network and was given a 16-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 250 hours of community service. He must also complete a 12-month supervision order including diversity awareness and prejudice training.

Mrs Ferguson said how, as an Army cadet, her son had always happily mixed with the children of former Gurkhas, and how he had always been sociable with the Indian family next door.

“When he was 14, he said he wanted to be a skinhead. I got him to join the Army cadets because I didn’t want him hanging around on street corners,” she added.

“I was so proud of him when he became a soldier and he was going to make a good life for himself. But he’s changed. The Army instils in them a belief that they are invincible. He just seemed not to be my son any more. When he was in the Army doing his basic training he started drinking and wanted to keep up with everybody else. When he’s come back home on leave, he’s sometimes been in quite a state."

Her son is adamant he knows he was in the wrong, she told the News & Star.

“What he said that day was disgusting. From the telephone conversations I’ve had with him over the last few months, I’d say he’s ashamed and sorry.

“He was planning on making a public apology about it but I told him that the damage has already been done.

“I’m not a racist but I feel ashamed and embarrassed. People have said to me that it’s nothing to do with me but as his mother I feel responsible because I brought him up. My friends know that this is not the Warren they know. I can’t understand why he’s done this thing.”

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