Billy Charlton trial: Sunderland protester says communities 'living in fear' due to 'criminal immigrants'

A campaigner has told jurors communities are "living in fear" as a result of "criminal immigrants".

Friday, 14th December 2018, 12:58 pm
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 1:02 pm
Billy Charlton pictured outside of Newcastle Crown Court

William Charlton, known as Billy, is accused of targeting "immigrants, Asians, black people and police" during a series of public speeches in Sunderland and causing a rise in racial crime and disorder in the city.

Prosecutors claim he hid his "racist agenda" under a "cloak of respectability" that he wanted to protect women and children from attacks.

The 54-year-old, of no fixed address, denies six charges of stirring up racial hatred and is being tried by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.

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Charlton has told the court his references to "immigrants" during his city centre speeches referred to "criminal immigrants" and was not intended as a racial slur or insult to anyone.

He also said there were police "cover ups" about what was really happening in the city, that he thought should be brought to public attention.

Charlton told the court: "What's happening is, people are being put in our communities and the crimes are not being revealed to us.

"The community is in fear.

"There is people living in Roker now who daren't let their bairns out on the streets.

"There is people who no-one knows who they are.

"People amongst their community are committing crimes."

While being cross examined by prosecutor Sharon Beattie, Charlton was epeatedly warned by trial Judge Simon Batiste to answer questions and not give speeches.

At one point in the proceedings, jurors sent a note saying: "Not sure how replies can be controlled. Mr Charlton deviates from questions put to him. It is confusing to see if the questions are being answered."

Charlton told jurors: "What we were trying to do was trying to highlight what was going on, try to make the police act so communities could see things were being done to help them."

He said criminals have been "destroying" communities and that the protests were always intended to be peaceful.

Charlton denies all charges.

The trial continues.