Mercy Muroki: Keith Crute’s conviction diminishes what is viewed as a racial hate crime
A Welsh driver who called a traffic warden a 'stupid Welsh mare' and spat at her after she gave him a parking ticket has been convicted of racially aggravated assault.
A Welsh driver who called a traffic warden a "stupid Welsh mare" and spat at her after she gave him a parking ticket has been convicted of - get this - racially aggravated assault.
Keith Crute, who reportedly lost control in the aggressive tirade against Gayle Williams, plead guilty to using racially aggravated threatening words and racially aggravated assault.
Now, obviously I completely condemn spitting on and verbally abusing someone. Mr Crute is obviously a very unpleasant and aggressive man and should face the consequences for that.
But racially aggravated assault – really? The reason the prosecution were able to bring these charges is because the law states that 'racial groups' can also entail nationality groups when it comes to racially aggravated crimes.
So, you don't actually have to target someone for their race. Even if you reference their nationality, you can still get a race hate crime on your rap sheet.
But regardless of all of that, I am uncomfortable with the judgement in this case. I'm not convinced Mr Crute – as foul as he is – deserves a having a racially aggravated assault conviction on his record.
Does anyone really consider calling someone a "Welsh mare" a racist act? I also think that this diminishes what we view as racial hate crimes.
Race crimes, should of course, be taken seriously. I think that's something we can mostly agree on.
But they won't be taken seriously if it's cases like this that are recorded as race crimes. And, even more worrying is that – if we're going to record incidents like these as racial assaults, then inevitably it will LOOK like race crimes in society are going up.
Which has the potential to be incredibly misleading, and would cause unnecessary racial panic.
Look, some people might say Mr Crute has got his comeuppance – he now has to do 200 hours unpaid work, 24 days of rehabilitation activity, and has to pay £400 compensation to his victim.
I make no excuses for behaviour, and of course, the justice system SHOULD punish actual race hate crimes, I just think - in this particular case - it's one step too far.