BRITAIN First leader Paul Golding has been given a suspended sentence after a judge found him guilty of stirring up hate against migrants in Ballymena.
The 37-year-old, with an address in Dartford in Kent, received a three months jail term, suspended for two years, at Ballymena Magistrates Court.
Golding was found guilty of distributing material likely to stir up hatred in Ballymena on October 20 last year and of possession of the similar material on October 24.
A co-accused – Lee Brown (29), of Shore Crescent in Belfast – was convicted of the one charge – distributing written material at Moat Road in the Harryville area of Ballymena which was “threatening, abusive or insulting intending to stir up hatred”.
The charges followed Golding’s arrest on October 24 last year.
The court heard Golding had visited Ballymena in relation to Britain First rallies planned in the town.
At the centre of the case was a leaflet being handed out which had title: ‘Stop the influx of migrants into Ballymena …now!’
Some of the information made false claims about immigrants being given housing and benefits.
The leaflet invited people to attend a Britain First rally in Ballymena on October 27 last year.
District Judge Nigel Broderick heard Golding’s defence barrister said the aim of the leaflet was to encourage residents to attend a rally to put pressure on politicians to take action regarding a “perceived problems over immigration”.
The barrister said the leaflet was not inciting or threatening violence although he said the language may be considered by some to be “unpleasant”.
Brown’s barrister said the pamphlet was “not a call to arms or civic unrest, it’s a political document”.
But finding both accused guilty Judge Broderick said, while he accepted it was “not explicitly threatening”, it met the test that it stirred up hatred and fear.
Golding was granted bail pending appeal while Brown’s sentence was put back to the end of July for a pre-sentence report.