A muslim mum who had her niqab veil ripped off in a hate-filled race attack is pleading for the thug responsible not to go to prison.
In a remarkable show of forgiveness towards Peter Scotter, 55, the mother of four said she wants him to go free after hearing he was suffering from a cancerous tumour in his mouth.
The 39-year-old said she did not want him to suffer and to be free to lead a more peaceful and better life. She also pleaded with post-Brexit Britain to "stop the hatred and chill," becoming a beacon of tolerance to the rest of the world.
She spoke movingly about her fear of going out into the street in her veil because of the hostility she receives, but vowed not to allow the "anger and ignorance" to prevent her following her beliefs.
The mum was speaking ahead of a sentencing hearing for Scotter, which could have seen him sent to prison, however the case was adjourned at Newcastle Crown Court until the beginning of May due to his ill health.
The mum, who came to Sunderland from Bangladesh 30 years ago, said: "I did not realise that the man had cancer, I don't want him to go to prison and I would like the judge to bear that in mind when he does sentence him.
"He did a bad thing in anger, I don't know why he chose to do what he did to me, it hurt and frightened me but I don't seek any kind of revenge for that.
"I don't want him to suffer, I would like him to be free to live the rest of his life in peace and tolerance, not in anger and bitterness.
"Perhaps that is something everyone who shows anger and resentment towards muslim people in Britain could learn to do, maybe everyone could stop the hatred and chill.
"Allah says that we are all human, we should show support and love and respect no matter what our race or colour or religion is."
Scotter attacked her in July last year, 10 days after the Brexit vote.
She was waiting with her nine-year-old son for her husband outside a store in Sunderland’s Bridges shopping centre when he “purposefully” walked towards her and grabbed her niqab.
The force he used almost threw her to the ground, and the niqab came away from her face, exposing her and causing her pain to the neck.
A witness heard Scotter shout: “Here, take that ****** off, you are in our country now, you stupid ******* Muslim.”
Scotter was also heard to say: “Our Britain, you live by our ******* rules” before coming out with more racist abuse.
He has admitted racially aggravated assault and has 66 previous convictions for 157 offences, including actual bodily harm, breaching a Football Banning Order and racially aggravated criminal damage.
The mum said: "It happened soon after the vote to leave the EU. I couldn't say whether that had any effect on his behaviour, I don't know what made him say those things except his own anger.
"But I don't feel safe any more when I go out. Sometimes I ask my husband to walk ahead of me because I'm so worried that it will happen again and I feel I need him to protect me.
"I don't go into town as often as I did but I have been racially abused since the incident, more than once. Once was by a woman in a shop who swore at me and another time from an older man.
"I find that it tends to be the older generation who say things, the younger ones are perhaps more accepting. It would be nice to see the older generation setting an example of how to behave towards others.
"I was brought up to believe that Britain is a country open to everybody, a place that believes in freedom.
"It's a place where we should all feel secure and safe and welcome. When you look at some of the things happening in America now, this is a great time for Britain to lead the way and show that we can bond and be friends whatever our cultural background.
"My life is right here in Sunderland, it's where I live and where I will probably die, I don't want people to think badly of my town and I don't like that these things have happened here."
She began wearing her niqab shortly before the attack, feeling that's where her beliefs had led her.
She said: "It is my own choice, it is not something that was thrust onto me and it is not something I will push onto my daughters.
"It is a person choice, Islam teaches us not to reveal ourselves to men and that is something I felt I wanted to practice, but it was my choice.
"I felt happy and secure in it at first but after that incident it made me feel less so in public, which is sad. I accept other people's choices and I hoped others would accept mine.
"People need to look at themselves and think 'I want to show love and not be hateful, I want to be the kind of person who makes a positive difference in this world.'"