Grenfell Tower: Man admits posting grossly offensive model video

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Paul BussettiImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Paul Bussetti handed himself in to police when the footage went viral

A man has admitted sharing a grossly offensive video of a cardboard model of Grenfell Tower being burned on a bonfire.

Paul Bussetti, of Sundial Avenue in Croydon, south London, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

The clip was recorded at a party in south London a year after the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, which killed 72 people, and was shared on WhatsApp.

The 49-year-old was given a 10-week suspended jail sentence.

Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring said he was "horrified" when he saw the film.

He said: "It was disgusting, it was disrespectful, it was abhorrent and it was - by the nature of the charge - grossly offensive.

"I suspect it was offensive to almost everybody who has an ounce of decency about them."

Image source, Met Police
Image caption,
Paul Bussetti was given a 10-week suspended jail sentence

Bussetti was previously found not guilty of posting the video at a two-day trial in August 2019 but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) appealed against the verdict.

His acquittal was later quashed by the High Court.

The magistrates court heard Bussetti filmed the footage, which was taken at an annual bonfire party hosted by a friend in November 2018, and posted it in two WhatsApp groups - one football-related and one for a holiday group.

It prompted outrage when it was then shared widely online and made the national news, and was criticised as "vile" by a relative of one of the 72 victims of the disaster in west London.

The court heard direct and indirect references were made in Bussetti's footage about the residents of Grenfell Tower.

They included: "Who's jumping?", "Don't worry, stay in your flats", and "Jump out of the window".

Image caption,
The model was burned at a bonfire party in south London on 3 November 2018

The court heard Bussetti said: "That's what happens when you don't pay the rent." He could also be heard making siren noises.

Another person, who was not the defendant, could be heard making a racist comment in the video, while others could be heard laughing.

'Better to tell truth'

The court heard Bussetti handed himself in to police when the footage went viral.

Bussetti is said to have told police: "It was all over the telly and so we thought it was better to tell the truth.

"It was terrible, definitely offensive to people, it was just complete stupidness, one of those stupid moments."

A victim impact statement on behalf of the Grenfell victims said "the overall reaction of the Grenfell community was one of shock, horror and outrage" at the video.

In his ruling in August 2019, High Court judge Lord Justice Bean said he did not accept Bussetti's argument - that the figures in the bonfire were his friends - as a defence.

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