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Man snapped near mosque not planning attack, court hears

Kingston Guardian by David Lindsell and Tom Barnes | Tuesday, 27 March 2012 | Click here for original article

A man photographed holding a piece of wood moments before Kingston Mosque was attacked was grinning at his friends not plotting violence, his defence counsel has said.

Alfie Wallace was snapped holding a piece of wood in East Road, where the mosque is, while another unidentified man stood behind him wielding a stick, Kingston Crown Court heard.

He was caught on the mobile phone of co-defendant David Morris before the attack on November 21, 2010.

Mr Wallace’s defence counsel Eve Macatonia said: “The picture the Crown say is so sinister. Have a look at his face. He is smiling.”

The jury heard Mr Wallace had found the wood in a skip but he did not know if others had used them for a more malicious purpose later.

Miss Macatonia said: “Does he look like he is about to commit violent disorder or is he grinning because he is mucking about with his friends?”

Mr Wallace is one of nine men who deny being part of a group of up to 30 men that attacked Kingston Mosque wearing hoods, masks and scarves over their faces.

Each of the nine were caught on town centre CCTV entering East Road but all deny violent disorder, affray and racially aggravated criminal damage when they got near the mosque.

During closing statements on Monday, the men’s defence lawyers criticised the police investigation, pointing to missing exhibits, a lack of an ID parade, conflicting witness reports and the lack of any forensic evidence from fingerprints or DNA samples.

All of the men denied any connection to the English Defence League, whose slogan was shouted out during the attack.

Jollyon Robertson, whose client David Morris was caught on CCTV buying the bacon later alleged to have been laid on the mosque, said: “The prosecution would have you believe Mr Morris is guilty by association but that is not something that is recognised by law in this country.

“Maybe it was childish and disrespectful to buy the bacon but that does not make him part of the group that attacked the mosque. That is not proof he was involved.”

Terry Earl’s defence counsel Stephen Earnshaw claimed his client left the King’s Tun pub with the group partly because of fears of being attacked by Islamic extremists and said he “fell back” when he realised they were going to attack the mosque.

Mr Earnshaw said: “If Mr Earl had known the group were heading to a mosque he would never have gone. He has, as you heard him say, a job, family, responsibility, too much to lose.”

Peter Marshall, representing Paul Abley, who gave no comment to some questions in both his police interview and his trial cross-examination, said: “Should you hold that against him?”

Mr Marshall asked the jury to acquit his client after concluding there was not enough evidence to find him guilty. “The sheer fact someone may have gone down this street can’t lead you to conclude they were party to criminal damage. There might be a suspicion. No-one would pretend otherwise,” he said.

“There might be a little bit of a smell perhaps but if you are true to your oath and the burden of standard of proof it is something you must apply.”

Defending Adam Khalfan, Rodney McCune said: “Entering East Road doesn’t make you anyone guilty. Entering East Road with others who go on to something doesn’t make anyone guilty.”

Karl Matthews counsel, William Paynter, said there was no evidence his client did anything other than momentarily watched what was happening at the mosque and said that was not a criminal offence.

Jordan Ellingham’s defence counsel, Jessie Modd-Wedd, said: “He was stood on Acre Road 20m away, a spectator watching and not encouraging in any way.”

The jury is expected to be sent out to deliberate on its verdict on Wednesday, after hearing defence closing speeches on Monday on behalf of co-defendants James Stacey and Martin Pottle, and a summing up speech from Judge Georgina Kent.

Mr Morris, 21, of Epsom, Mr Wallace, 19, of Shepperton, Mr Earl, 32, of Northolt, Mr Khalfan, 19, of Ashford, Mr Abley, 24, of Feltham, Mr Matthews, 21, of Brentford, Mr Ellingham, 21, of Feltham, and James Stacey, 19, of Shepperton, Martin Pottle, 23, of Hanworth, all deny violent disorder, affray and racially-aggravated criminal damage.

The trial continues.

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