SMILING as they leave court, this is the pair who launched a late-night tirade of racial abuse at South Tyneside Muslims as they left their place of worship.
After a night out in South Shields discussing terrorism and religious extremism, Brian Mackey and Steven Dryden decided to pay a visit to one of the town’s mosques and let those inside know their racist views while filming it on a mobile phone.
South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard how Mackey and Dryden pledged allegiance to far right group the English Defence League (EDL) during an onslaught of abuse aimed at Muslims leaving the Baithul Mamur Jame Masjid Mosque, in Baring Street, on September 5 last year.
Mackey, 19, of Emlyn Road, South Shields, and Dryden, 24, of Fife Avenue, Jarrow, both pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence.
Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said: “They had been out drinking and got into a conversation about a documentary they had seen about the twin towers. They went to Vogue nightclub and continued the discussion.
“When they left, they went to Baring Street at 2am to air their views.
“It was during the festival at Ramadan and it isn’t unusual for people to be at the mosque praying at that time.
“Members were leaving when the two defendants were outside.
“Dryden shouted racial abuse telling them they shouldn’t be in the country.
“One of the defendants was videoing it on his mobile phone.”
Mrs Beck said the pair were shown the footage they had recorded by police, in which they said they were members of the South Shields English Defence League and shouted to the mosque members:
n “Do you love this country?”
n “Go back to your own country.”
n “This church used to be for Christians.”
n “You think you own this country.”
n “You will out-breed us and take over.”
She added: “During their interview, both said they didn’t think they were being racist and were within their rights to air their political view points.
“But after seeing the footage, accepted they had pushed it too far.”
Their solicitor Jenny Coxon said: “They didn’t intend to go to Baring Street, but were on their way to a party at the Lawe Top.
“It is unfortunate that prayer time finished as they passed.
“They accept their behaviour was unacceptable but didn’t appreciate at the time how extreme they were being.
“They were rejecting extremism not necessarily religion.
“On this night out they get into a boy’s debates, as boys tend to do, and find themselves in this situation.
“They say now they are not members of the EDL or any racist groups, and were just saying it for affect.”
Magistrates adjourned the case for the probation service to prepare a report about Mackey and Dryden. They were granted unconditional bail until their next appearance on February 17.
After the hearing, a pivotal figure in the South Tyneside Muslim community hit out at the pair.
Lalon Amin – who works with groups such as the Bangladeshi organisation, Bangla Awaz – said: “It’s always a concern when members of the public get racially abused.
“It’s especially not nice to hear of it in South Tyneside.
“I’m pleased to hear they have admitted it and will not waste any more public money.
“The right course of action has been taken, I hope their sentence reflects that.”