Sunderland protester Billy Charlton goes on trial accused of stirring up racial hatred
A protester who once spoke alongside Tommy Robinson has gone on trial accused of stirring up racial hatred during a series of public speeches.
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.
Newcastle Crown Court heard following on from the speeches, which were streamed on Facebook and picked up by Rebel Media, which was linked to Robinson, there was graffiti, damage and even violence on the streets, including an attack on two Asian men by a group of five protesters after one march.
Prosecutor Sharon Beattie told the court the protection of woman 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 the police couldn't protect them so they had to protect themselves."
Charlton, 55, of no fixed address, denies five charges of stirring up racial hatred between November 2016 and July 2017 and is being tried by a jury.
Miss Beattie told the court the marches and speeches in Sunderland started after Charlton heard about an attack claimed to have been carried out by three Turkish men in a property 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 per cent 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.
Miss Beattie added: "The content was much as before. There was particular aim at David Cameron for being a spineless *******, letting 20,000 unvetted, unknown people in our country."
The court heard Charlton had told the crowd, "Get them off our streets, get them off our land," during the protest.
Miss Beattie said it was at that march a woman had held up a placard saying rape was not about race and had to be escorted away by the police for her own safety and was then called an "idiot" by Charlton.
In an 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".
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'.
Charlton denies all charges .
The trial continues.