A man who was filmed racially abusing a US army veteran before throwing beer over him on a Manchester tram has been jailed for six months. The sentencing of another man was adjourned due to illness and a 16-year-old boy was given a six-month referral order.
Robert Molloy, 20, of no fixed address and 19-year-old Aaron Cauchi, from Salford, were filmed shouting abuse at Juan Jasso aboard the Metrolink on 28 June 2016. The court heard they and the 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named, had been drinking all night before abusing Jasso after he confronted them about swearing in front of children.
The three men could be heard threatening Jasso, who now lives in Todmorden and works as a university lecturer, telling him to "go back to Africa". He responded: "How old are you, 18 or 19? I have been here longer than you. You are extremely ignorant and unintelligent."
Other passengers defended Jasso, calling the yobs a disgrace, and they were thrown off the tram to cheers.
During the outburst they also threatened two other men. Alistair Lambert had a cigarette lighter thrown at him as he walked with a female colleague and cyclist Andrew Guest was spat at several times, the BBC reported. The three defendants were arrested soon afterwards.
During the hearing, Cauchi's lawyer James McDermott said the incident took place five days after the UK voted to leave the EU. "For several months those in positions of great responsibility employed divisive rhetoric which clearly has had an impact," the Manchester Evening News reported McDermott as saying.
Molloy admitted one count of assault, one count of using threatening words and behaviour and another of racially aggravated assault. Doubling his 12-week sentence because of the element of racism, Chairman of the Bench Michael Evans said: "Hopefully when you are released from prison a lesson will be learned and you will be able to make a positive contribution and treat people with respect."
Molloy was also banned from Manchester's Metrolink trams for two years and was ordered to pay £550 ($688) in costs and compensation. Cauchi, who admitted public order offences and assault, complained of stomach pains and was rushed to hospital in a wheelchair before he could be sentenced. He will reappear on 21 February for sentencing.
Jasso, who attended court as a witness but did not have to give evidence because the youths pleaded guilty, said he would do the same thing again and still loved the UK. "I will always stand up for what I believe is right," he said, according to the Lancashire Telegraph.
"For me to be on the receiving end of that was a bit of a shock. I don't see them as very good members of society. This place is still home, it always will be, it hasn't changed my view on anything about this place, I love England, love living here, love the area."