William Charlton jailed for stirring up racial hatred in Sunderland

Media caption,
William Charlton argues with police during an arrest interview

A "manipulative bully" convicted of stirring up racial hatred in speeches at a series of rallies has been jailed for 21 months.

William Charlton, 55, described immigrants as "monsters" in a string of speeches which "riled up" crowds in Sunderland, a court heard.

Charlton, from Washington, had claimed he set up the rallies in response to a reported attack on a woman in the city.

He was found guilty of five charges at Newcastle Crown Court jury.

Judge Edward Bindloss said: "You have been revealed as an intelligent, articulate, skilled public speaker, but also a manipulative bully in my judgment.

"You propelled the [justice campaign for the woman] with rhetoric and misrepresentations, and the jury have found an agenda of racist hatred."

The attack was investigated by police but resulted in no charges being brought, the court was told.

Charlton, of Byland Court, had told the court he organised the first rally in 2016 because he believed "the country is in a mess".

Asian men attacked

Excerpts from his speeches read out in court included a complaint that "immigrants seem to have more rights than me in this town".

In one, he told people to stay away from bars which he claimed were frequented by "immigrant rapists".

Prosecutor Sharon Beattie told the court Charlton's intention had been "to stir people up against Muslims, Asians, black people and the police".

After one event, she said, two Asian men were attacked outside their home.

Charlton had claimed his comments were aimed at criminals rather than immigrants and he was "trying to raise awareness in our local community of what was going on".

Glenn Gatland, defending, said Charlton had become frustrated by what he saw, rightly or wrongly, as police failures in that case.

The court heard he had been fined in 2007 when convicted for racially aggravated harassment.

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