Billy Charlton found guilty of stirring up racial hatred during a series of Sunderland city centre marches

A protester who once spoke alongside Tommy Robinson is facing jail for stirring up racial hatred during a series of public speeches.

Thursday, 26th September 2019, 3:08 pm
Billy Charlton pictured outside Newcastle Crown Court.

William Charlton, known as Billy, claimed his intention was to "protect the women of Sunderland from rape and sexual violence" when he spoke at planned demonstrations in the city.

The speeches were streamed on Facebook and picked up by Rebel Media, which was linked to Robinson.

Police launched an investigation into Charlton once he was deemed to have "gone beyond" freedom of speech and crossed into criminality with what he was saying to the crowds.

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The 55-year-old has now been convicted by a jury of five offences of stirring up racial hatred between November 2016 and July 2017 and has been told he faces a prison sentence.

Judge Edward Bindloss has remanded Charlton in custody until he is sentenced on Friday, September 27, and warned him prison was "inevitable".

Charlton told the judge "I've got a dog in the house by itself" but bail was refused.

Prosecutor Sharon Beattie told Newcastle Crown Court the protection of women was an "excuse" by Charlton, who she said is "an intelligent man and a good speaker".

Miss Beattie added: "This supposed cause was hiding his true intention under a cloak of respectability.

"His true intentions, say the prosecution, were to stir people up against Muslims, Asians, black people and the police."

Miss Beattie said the marches caused "considerable disruption" in Sunderland and were "aggressive and confrontational" in nature.

She added: "Mr Charlton wasn't genuinely motivated by concern about these women. He was motivated by an agenda and that agenda related to immigrants, he was stirring up racial hatred.

"His attacks on the police were designed to tell people they police couldn't protect them so they had to protect themselves."

Charlton, of no fixed address, has now been tried by two juries.

At the first trial, last year, Charlton was cleared of a similar charge, relating to a march in September 2016.

Miss Beattie told the court the marches and speeches in Sunderland started after Charlton heard about an alleged attack claimed to have been carried out by foreign men in the city, which later resulted in no charges being brought.

During the demonstrations, Charlton, who addressed the crowd, said the council had "imported rapists" and that the police were "useless".

Mr Beattie said during the talks, Charlton "equates immigrants with rapists and wants the audience to do the same" and made no mention about the fact around 85% of accused of sexual offences in the area were white.

The court heard Charlton had told the crowd: "Immigrants are being brought into the town and being allowed to do what they want".

Miss Beattie said during one speech, Charlton told the crowd: "These people are drugging, raping and kidnapping our women and Northumbria Police do nothing, nothing to protect them."

The court heard Charlton appeared at a protest on June 10, 2017, along with Tommy Robinson.

During the talk, Charlton said: "This will never be Rotherham, it will never be Rochdale, this is Sunderland."

The city centre crowd clapped and cheered and chanted their demands for "justice".

Charlton branded David Cameron a "spineless b*****" for his immigration policies.

The court heard a woman had to be escorted away from the protest for carrying a placard that said "rape does not have a race".

Miss Beattie said the woman was then called an "idiot" by Charlton.

In a media interview later that day, Charlton said the "vast majority were migrant" when asked who was committing rapes in the city and claimed he "could not remember one rape in Sunderland committed by a local".

The court heard Charlton was "aggressive and argumentative" after he was arrested and questioned by the police and did not really answer questions put to him but "he did deny being racist".

One police officer said she was "flabbergasted" by Charlton's aggressive manner during questioning.

Miss Beattie said before the marches in Sunderland, Charlton had attended the White Man March in Newcastle, which was supported by the far right and was "anti Muslim, anti Islam".

He also spoke at a "Protect our Borders" protest in Dover and Miss Beattie said he gave a speech in South Shields about people going to Mosques and 'saying they should go into the Mosques and sort them out'.