A gypsy teenager who shouted ‘Hitler’s coming’ as he pelted Jewish shoppers with laughing gas canisters has been jailed for six months.
Patrick Delaney, 19, shouted ‘Hitler’s coming’ at four members of the Orthodox Jewish community, including a 13-year-old boy, outside Poundland in Tottenham Hale, north London.
The father-of-one, who told the court he had himself ‘been subject to the same abuse’ as a member of the travelling community, threw the canisters from a white van while shouting ‘Heil Hitler.’
Cheya Stern, her 13-year-old son, her brother Simon Lemberger and Abraham Lew, who were bombarded with abuse and the metal canisters, described being shocked and scared by the attack.
Delaney, said an argument with his wife had left him feeling depressed and he took the drug known as ‘hippy crack’ to ‘put his woes behind him.’
Lee Sergeant, prosecuting, said that Ms Stern, her son and her brother, Mr Lemberger, had gone to Tottenham Hale retail park at about 7.40pm on 6 January last year.
‘Mr Lemberger was going to Argos and in order to get there he needed to pass Poundland.
‘Outside there was a parked van containing the three men. Mr Lemberger entered with little incident, but was aware of the horn being sounded a number of times from the van.
‘However, Ms Stern and her son were made subject to a volley of racial abuse.
‘They heard shouting of “Hitler” over and over again. Ms Stern had no doubt this was directed at her and her son.’
Mr Sergeant added that the three men were ‘making faces that she believed were designed to scare her. Both her and her son were very shocked and scared.’
They went to the nearby Asda, but Ms Stern then ‘did not want to leave the store for fear of being further confronted by the men.’
Ms Stern ‘tried to stay strong for her son’, but as they passed the van ‘some gas canisters were thrown out of the open window of the van.
‘They did not hit Ms Stern or her son, however Ms Stern was understandably very scared.’
Mr Lemberger left Poundland to collect carrier bags from his car, when he heard Delaney yelling ‘Hitler’s coming’ and ‘Heil Hitler.’
On his way back to the store, Mr Lemberger ‘heard metal hit the ground. The metal would have been the canisters that had been thrown.’
He warned an acquaintance, Mr Lew, of what had happened outside and shortly after the two men left, when they again heard ‘Hitler’s coming, Heil Hitler.’
The court heard Mr Lemberger could see ’20 or 30 of these gas canisters on the ground’ as he left.
Mr Sergeant continued: ‘When they returned to their car, they saw the people in the van on the other side of the car park still shouting as they drove out.
In her victim impact statement, Ms Stern said: ‘This incident has brought back such bad memories for me and has left me with a shocking feeling inside. I know it will take me a long time to get over.
‘It was a truly horrible experience for us. We didn’t do anything to these men, we didn’t agitate them. We were just in fact people wanting to go shopping.’
She added she may never return to Tottenham Hale retail park.
The court heard Delaney had a previous conviction for religiously aggravated harassment, after being arrested in August 2012 for shouting ‘tandoori’ and ‘naan’ at a man at a swimming pool, for which he received a referral order.
Barry Gilbert, defending, read a letter from Delaney to the court which read: ‘As a person from a traveller background, I myself have been subject to the same abuse and know how much it hurts and why I should never have shouted what I did.
Delaney added: ‘It was appalling behaviour, it’s disgusting and you shouldn’t do it.’
Mr Gilbert said: ‘He had a falling out with his wife. He got very depressed about it and he and the other two got hold of a box of nitrous oxide canisters, which I understand these days are quite popular for getting a bit high.
‘That’s what they were doing. Mr Delaney would not do this in normal circumstances.
‘The nitrous oxide was just to put his woes behind him for a bit.
‘He really is panicking to death about what’s going to happen to him.
‘I would characterise it as a stupid, senseless, unforgivable act. This is just rank stupidity, highlighted by him being the subject of abuse himself.
‘Now that he’s sober, he can’t understand why he did it at all. He’s not evil at all, he was a stupid young man.’
He added that Delaney was married with a young child and his wife was expecting a second child in June.
Passing sentence, Judge John Dodd, QC, said: ‘On an evening last year, Ms Stern and her 13-year-old son, along with her brother and a friend of his, all visited the retail park in Tottenham Hale.
‘All are members of the Orthodox Jewish community her in north London and that fact would have been clearly visible to you.
‘You repeatedly subjected those individuals, including Ms Stern’s 13-year-old boy, to foul language.
‘All recall you referring to Hitler and saying Hitler was coming. Those words were plainly intended to cause distress and they plainly did.
‘You and your two companions were parked up in order to sniff laughing gas. You threw some of those metal canisters towards your victims. This conduct must have added to the air of menace that you so successfully generated.
‘It is important to recall that group had done absolutely nothing to offend you or to upset you. Yet you chose to insult them.
‘Ms Stern, as a mother, was particularly upset for the sake of her son. What parent would not be seeing their child exposed to this sort of disgraceful behaviour?
‘This is plainly in my view serious enough so as to call for an immediate custodial sentence. Your conduct was simply disgraceful.
‘No civilised society can allow any such conduct to be considered in any sense acceptable.
‘We all need, especially in these challenging times, to remember that no man, woman or child is an island.
‘We must show, all of us, compassion towards each other and even if you do not agree with the lifestyles of others you must tolerate them. You didn’t.’
Delaney hugged his wife and cried as he was taken down to the cells.
Delaney’s brother Francis Delaney, 23, and Michael Doherty, 25, had been accused of involvement in the incident, but charges against them were dropped by the prosecution.
Judge Witold Pawlak told the pair: ‘Be careful who you keep company with.’
A report released today by the Community Security Trust revealed a record number of anti-semitic incidents in the UK, which rose by more than a third in 2016.
The CST, which has monitored antisemitic incidents since 1984, recorded 1,309 anti-Jewish incidents last year, up from 960 in 2015.
CST chief executive David Delew said: ‘Whilst Jewish life in this country remains overwhelmingly positive, this heightened level of antisemitism is deeply worrying and it appears to be getting worse.’
Delaney, of Twin Oaks Caravan Park, Coggeshall, Essex, admitted religiously aggravated harassment causing alarm or distress.
Speaking outside court, Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE, president of Stamford Hill Shomrim, said he felt compassion for Delaney but wanted the message to go out about hate crimes.
‘The case has been dealt with extremely well. One sees that everyone is taking this very seriously and everyone understands the sensitivity of this matter vis-a-vis the Jewish community.
‘It is very interesting how the defence barrister is also 100% of the understanding that this matter is an extremely serious matter and racism has to be countered, challenged and dealt with in a manner that is of a special importance in today’s climate.
‘I feel in general that a message has to go out that this type of behaviour is totally beyond the pale. On a personal level, I do feel for him. I feel that his family background is such that I have compassion.
‘I have worked over the years for the Roma community, the traveller and gypsy communities and I have a lot of compassion for them. I know the difficulties they face in society but, at the same time, this type of behaviour shouldn’t be tolerated.
‘I think [there is] a general attitude in the country of being hostile to minorities, of not understanding the idea of tolerance, the idea of living in a society with people of different backgrounds and cultures. I think this needs to be dealt with in a constructive, positive manner.
‘Personally, members of my family and people I know well.’
Asked what he believed would happen in the future, Rabbi Gluck said: ‘I’m not a prophet but, based on what we’ve seen in the past, we need to educate young people and society that, if we want a peaceful, tolerant society, we all need to be peaceful and tolerant.
‘It’s not just to say the other guy needs to be, it needs to begin with ourselves.’