National Front Northern Ireland ex-leader guilty of 'vile' racist attack on taxi driver
The former leader of the National Front in Northern Ireland has been convicted of a "vile" racist attack on a taxi driver in Co Antrim.
Mark Brown (31), of Skerryview in Craigahullier near Portrush, was also found guilty of not paying an £18.40 taxi fare.
Brown had contested the charges but was convicted at Coleraine Magistrates Court yesterday.
Deputy District Judge Peter Magill said it was a "racially-motivated" offence and the defendant had "clearly expressed vile racist comments" regarding taxi driver Ricardo Alavijeh (56).
Mr Alavijeh, who is understood to be originally from the Middle East, told the court Brown punched him on the head in his car, but because he was wearing a cap he wasn't seriously injured. He said he drove up the road to phone the police and noticed Brown "running after me".
"I was very worried, I was panicking," he said.
He told the court Brown was also "being racist towards me".
The taxi driver said he had initially received a call under a different name and wasn't at first aware it was Brown.
Brown's barrister claimed the driver "decided to make trouble" for Brown by falsely accusing him of assault and not paying the fare. The lawyer said Brown had tried to pay the taxi fare.
Mr Alavijeh told the court: "As a taxi driver dealing with drunk people and people under the influence of drugs there are a lot of incidents of racial abuse in Coleraine. I don't even bother phoning the police unless it is serious."
Statements from police officers said that when arrested, Brown made several remarks including references to "Muslim c***", "jihadi bombing b******s" and "dirty Paki b******".
Brown claimed the driver had a "grudge" against him and the allegation that he punched Mr Alavijeh was "a tissue of lies".
He told the court that he had ordered a taxi to take him from his partner's home, where he drank two bottles of wine, to his parents' home. When he realised the driver was Mr Alavijeh he wasn't going to use the taxi, but was told to get in.
Brown claimed he had got out of the car intending to pay with a £20 note, but the taxi driver then drove off.
Brown admitted he had made remarks to police and said it was because he was "agitated and frustrated" at being arrested.
He told the court he had no exact memory of what he had said to police and added: "I apologise for the nature of the words."
The court heard Brown had been convicted in 2009 of similar offences against Mr Alavijeh.
Convicting the defendant of the 2018 offences, Judge Magill said that having seen and heard from both men in court he was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of Brown's guilt.
The judge said he did not believe Mr Alavijeh would make up a false account for no reason which he would then have to tell to police and a court.
Judge Magill said Brown had "clearly expressed vile racist comments". He said it was a "racially motivated offence". He said he needed a pre-sentence report on Brown and adjourned sentencing until February.