Victim weeps in dock as Belfast man convicted of inciting hatred

Court
Court

A Belfast man has been convicted of incitement to hatred towards Pakistanis living on his street.

John Montgomery had denied racially taunting two men in the aftermath of an attack on their home in June 2014.

But the 59-year-old was found guilty by a judge who heard he had also gone into their house on Parkmount Street following the earlier incident.

One of the victims sobbed as he recalled being subjected to verbal abuse and physically assaulted by another unidentified man.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard 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,” he said.

“Saying, ‘Get out of our street, get out of our country’.”

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

The defendant accepted going into the victims’ house, but insisted he was only trying to remove two or three other men who had entered.

“I wish he was that good,” Mr Khattak responded.

Asked why he believed he had been targeted by the group, he insisted: “It was racially motivated. This is super conservative-minded people in society.”

Montgomery, of Parkmount Street, was not charged with any involvement in the earlier attack on the house or the alleged physical assault.

Instead, he was accused 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.

According to his account he went into the house to get others to leave when his wife informed him they had kicked the door in.

Questioned by defence counsel Mark Farrell, he explained that he acted due to his role as a local community worker.

“I have a wee bit of respect in the area,” Montgomery said.

During cross-examination it was put to him that he had refuted the incident was about ethnicity by claiming it was instead linked to the non-payment of rent.

Montgomery told a prosecution lawyer that he sometimes used the word “Chinks” for Chinese food.

“I would say phone the Chinks for a meal, everybody uses it around the area, but there’s no reference to hatred whatsoever,” he stressed.

“There is no way I used the word Paki or anything of the sort.”

But after hearing all evidence District Judge Ken Nixon convicted him of incitement to hatred.

Montgomery will return to court in July to be sentenced.