Two Polish football hooligans who sprayed antisemitic graffiti and football slogans across Tunbridge Wells in a one-night rampage have been sentenced to spend 22 weeks in prison.
On 17th November 2016, Sebastian Tancula and Damian Filipek met at Stansted Airport and went out drinking. Filipek, a scrapyard worker who has been in the UK for four years and Tancula, who was visiting, painted slogans on twenty homes and businesses across Tunbridge Wells. Maidstone Crown Court heard that whilst one of the men vandalised the buildings, the other prevented members of the public from stopping him. Customers and staff at a pub alerted the police and one customer even tailed the men until the police arrived, finding them with their hands covered in red paint — “literally red-handed” as prosecutor Mary Jacobson put it.
The graffiti consisted of football slogans such as “Wisla Sharks” accompanied by “Amti Jude” meaning “anti-Jewish” and a star of David. In Poland the fans of Wisla Sharks are infamous for violence and antisemitism.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council was left with a clean-up bill of £2,641 but the court heard that most of the businesses and homes affected would need to undertake further repair work at their own cost. One of the businesses was due to have its grand opening the day after the crimes were committed, causing its owners “outrage, shock and upset”.
Craig Evans, defending Filipek, said the scrapyard worker was “sincerely remorseful” and Danny Moore, defending Tancula, said the machine operator was not antisemitic and was merely directing hatred at the Jewish fans of rival team Wisla Krakow, rather than the wider community more generally, which he seems to have felt was a defence.
Krakow’s Jewish population consisted of 60,000 men, women and children before the Holocaust, but the Jewish population now stands at a few hundred people.
At Maidstone Crown Court, Tancula and Filipek pleaded guilty to eighteen offences of criminal damage and two offences of racially aggravated criminal damage for the antisemitic slogans. Sentencing them, Judge Charles Macdonald QC said that “The expression of such antisemitic ideas is deeply offensive”.