Billy Charlton trial: Jury fail to reach verdicts as decision over possible retrial expected in January
A jury in the trial of a campaigner accused of stirring up hatred during city protests has been unable to reach verdicts.
William Charlton, known as Billy, is accused of targeting "immigrants, Asians, black people and police" during a series of public rallies in Sunderland and causing a rise in racial crime and disorder in the city.
The 54-year-old, of no fixed address, has denied six charges of stirring up racial hatred during a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
After a day of deliberation, jurors him not guilty of one charge.
But after a further half day of discussions, the panel has been unable to reach any further verdicts on the remaining five alleged offences.
Judge Simon Batiste has now discharged that jury and Charlton may face a retrial.
The case will be back in court on January 11 for prosecutors to declare whether Charlton will be tried again.
Charlton has been granted bail in the meantime.
Judge Batiste told Charlton: "As you have heard, the jury have been unable to reach verdicts on most of the counts you face.
"The prosecution are going to have to make a decision as to whether they will seek to retry you or not.
"I will have the case back before me on January 11 next year."
Charlton has been given bail, with conditions, in the meantime.
He has denied throughout the trial, which lasted almost three weeks, that he is a racist.