Published: 13:20, 07 March 2018
The leaders of Britain First have been jailed for causing religiously aggravated harassment during a gang rape trial in Kent last year.
Paul Golding and his deputy Jayda Fransen were arrested in May last year for alleged offences relating to their behaviour during the trial of four men, who were later convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl in a flat above 555 Pizza in Ramsgate.
Shershah Muslimyar, 21, of Hovenden Close, Canterbury, restaurant owner Tamin Rahmani, 38, of Northwood Road, Ramsgate and Rafiullah Hamidy, 24, formerly of High Street, Herne Bay, were each jailed for 14 years, while an unnamed 17-year-old from Ashford was detained for seven.
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Golding and Fransen, who are figureheads of the far-right group, stood trial at Folkestone Magistrates' Court in January after denying the charges.
The chairman of the bench reserved judgement until today, where the pair learned their fate on a series of charges.
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[Live Grid - Fransen/Goldingsentencing]
Fransen was jailed for 36 weeks, while Britain First leader Paul Golding was put behind bars for 18 weeks.
During the trial, a video of Fransen shouting outside 555 Pizza during the rape case was shown to the court, where more than a dozen supporters gathered in the public gallery.
In the video, the 31-year-old shouts "you dirty monsters" and encourages those inside to come out and meet her face-to-face.
A second video from the perspective of those inside was then shown to the court, where Fransen could be seen banging on the windows and shouting while Golding filmed her.
Speaking from behind a screen, Jamshed Khesrow - who was in the pizza shop at the time - said: “I was so afraid and so scared, I did not know what was going to happen.
"I've been in England for 17 years and never have I been scared like this."
Mr Khesrow described how he hid at the back of the shop away from the view of the "very aggressive" Fransen.
Another video showed Fransen confronting one of the rapists, Tamin Rahmani, his brother, and his barrister outside Canterbury Crown Court.
Rahmani’s brother, Faiz, told the court he saw himself on the Britain First website incorrectly identified as Shershah Muslimyar, one of the men who was later convicted of rape.
He said: “The lady with red hair approached me and told me ‘you are a Muslim rapist'. I was shocked and was panicking. She asked me 'are you a good or bad Muslim?'.
"She said 'Muslims rape British kids.’
"I have been in this country 12 years and have never been arrested or been in a police station."
Mr Rahmani said this mistaken identity led him to worry about having to hide himself.
In another video shown to the court, Golding, 36, said how being arrested and charged only makes Britain First stronger.
He said: "We can be shot, stabbed, bombed, but we will carry on with great determination.
"Not in a billion years are we going to surrender. We are in this to the death for as long as humanly possible. We will never surrender to police persecution."
The court also heard evidence from Kelli Best - the partner of Tamin Rahmani - who said the alleged abuse she faced at the hands of Fransen brought about her stillbirth.
She described the moment Fransen turned up at their home and targeted remarks at her partner - who was not in at the time - leaving her two young children scared.
Ms Best's neighbour, Katie Morgan, told the trial she couldn't hear what was being said by Fransen outside, but said her neighbour was left "uncontrollably shaking" and suffered three panic attacks after Fransen left.
She said: "She was in a bad state for the next few months. She was bleeding continuously until I saw her give birth to her dead baby."
Fransen said doorstepping was "a legitimate method of reporting," adding: "I think that I have a duty to raise the profile of these issues".
She denied being racist or acting aggressively.
Golding said he was acting as Fransen's cameraman.
Speaking after the sentencing, Det Insp Bill Thornton of Kent Police said: "The crimes committed by Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were abhorrent and motivated by religious insensitivities.
"They claimed to be exposing the men who had been accused of rape, when in reality they knew little about the case in question and could have put the trial at risk due to their reckless actions.
"It was the bravery of the female who was attacked and the tireless work of Kent Police detectives who ensured the men responsible are now serving a significant period of time behind bars, not because of any misguided attempt by Golding and Fransen to claim credit for their conviction by bringing religion into the equation.
"The fact that completely innocent members of the public were accused of being rapists, making them fear for their own safety, shows how little regard they have for the consequences of their actions.
"Kent Police simply will not tolerate any offences that are motivated by prejudice and hate, and will investigate all such incidents thoroughly in order to bring those responsible in front of the courts."
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