Express & Star

Man who put up anti-Islamic posters near Walsall mosque given suspended sentence

A man who put up a series of anti-Islamic posters near a mosque in Walsall was caught - when pursuing police found him in possession of a glue stick, a court heard.


Francesco Riccobono pasted the posters over a three-day period near the Aisha Mosque in the Wednesbury Road area, Walsall Magistrates' Court was told.

The posters featured images and messages mocking the Islam faith, causing alarm and distress to the local Muslim Community.

Riccobono, who admitted racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment, was spotted putting up a poster by police on July 3. Riccobono fled, but officers soon caught up with him, finding him with a ripped-up post at his feet and with Pritt Stick.

Riccobono, aged 68, of Sherridan Close, Pleck, given a handed a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Mrs Maggie Meakin, prosecuting, said: "Over a period of 72 hours posters were repeatedly put up around the Wednesbury Road area.

"The defendant ran from the scene and was arrested."

Riccobono initially denied any knowledge of the posters, saying he had not touched them and had only ran from the police because he 'didn't like them'.

Mr Mandeep Bassi, defending, said: "He has been very candid and expressed opinions that other people might not express. It is a free country, we live in a democratic society. We don't live in North Korea where thoughts are controlled by the Government.

"He makes it clear he has no hatred for Muslims and he makes it clear the incident occurred after he was subjected to abuse for his views. He has gone about things the wrong way.

"Until last year he had never been in trouble. Things have happened in his mind that have affected him - something has clearly gone wrong."

Riccobono pleaded guilty to racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment.

Delivering sentence, presiding magistrate Irene Gutteridge said Riccobono's actions were unacceptable.

She said: "We are fortunate in the United Kingdom that we allow freedom of speech and people are entitled to their own personal views.

"However it is not acceptable for an individual to cause harassment, alarm and distress by displaying posters intentionally to cause offence to a specific group of people, in this case the Muslim people."

Mrs Gutteridge said his sentence had been extended from six weeks suspended to 12 weeks suspended due to him being guilty of a hate crime.

He was also ordered to pay £510 in court costs and £50 in compensation.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.