Patrick Delaney has been sentenced to spend six months in prison for his part in an antisemitic assault in January last year. Delaney, of Twin Oaks Caravan Park, Coggeshall, Essex, admitted causing religiously aggravated harassment alarm or distress after inhaling laughing gas following an argument with his wife. He has a previous conviction for religiously aggravated abuse.
On the evening of 6th January 2016, Delaney, a 19-year-old father of one, began pelting Jewish shoppers with gas canisters, including a 13-year-old child. As Jewish people passed Poundland in Tottenham Hale, London, Delaney shouted “Hitler is coming, Heil Hitler, Heil Hitler, Heil Hitler” and threw small gas refill canisters towards Cheya Stern and her 13-year-old son, her brother Simon Lemberger and Abraham Lew. Though none of them were injured, they were badly shaken by the experience. Shomrim, the Jewish neighbourhood watch patrol, was called by the victims and liaised with the police.
The court heard that Mr Lemberger walked past Poundland first and saw three men in a parked white van repeatedly sounding the horn. Next, Ms Stern and her son passed the van and were subjected to shouts of “Heil Hitler” whilst the men tried to scare her son by making faces. They began running at which point they were pelted with gas canisters. As Mr Lemberger left a shop with Mr Lew, they too were subjected to racist abuse whilst 20 to 30 gas canisters were thrown at them.
Patrick Delaney’s brothers Francis Delaney, 23, and Michael Doherty, 25, were also in the van and were arrested, but charges against them were dropped.
In a victim impact statement, Ms Stern said: “This incident has brought back such bad memories for me and has left me with a shocking feeling inside. I know it will take me a long time to get over. It was a truly horrible experience for us. We didn’t do anything to these men, we didn’t agitate them. We were just in fact people wanting to go shopping.”
Passing sentence, Judge John Dodd, QC, told Delaney: “On an evening last year, Ms Stern and her 13-year-old son, along with her brother and a friend of his, all visited the retail park in Tottenham Hale. All are members of the Orthodox Jewish community here in north London and that fact would have been clearly visible to you. You repeatedly subjected those individuals, including Ms Stern’s 13-year-old boy, to foul language. All recall you referring to Hitler and saying Hitler was coming. Those words were plainly intended to cause distress and they plainly did. You and your two companions were parked up in order to sniff laughing gas. You threw some of those metal canisters towards your victims. This conduct must have added to the air of menace that you so successfully generated. It is important to recall that group had done absolutely nothing to offend you or to upset you. Yet you chose to insult them. Ms Stern, as a mother, was particularly upset for the sake of her son. What parent would not be seeing their child exposed to this sort of disgraceful behaviour?
“This is plainly in my view serious enough so as to call for an immediate custodial sentence. Your conduct was simply disgraceful. No civilised society can allow any such conduct to be considered in any sense acceptable. We all need, especially in these challenging times, to remember that no man, woman or child is an island. We must show, all of us, compassion towards each other and even if you do not agree with the lifestyles of others you must tolerate them. You didn’t.”
Delaney hugged his wife and cried as he was taken down to the cells.
In a statement, Rabbi Herschel Gluck, President of Stamford Hill Shomrim, the Jewish volunteer neighbourhood watch patrol, said: “The case has been dealt with extremely well. One sees that everyone is taking this very seriously and everyone understands the sensitivity of this matter vis-a-vis the Jewish community. I feel in general that a message has to go out that this type of behaviour is totally beyond the pale. On a personal level, I do feel for him. I feel that his family background is such that I have compassion.”
We commend Shomrim and authorities for taking this offence seriously, and we are particularly satisfied that Delaney was given a suitable custodial sentence, sending a message of deterrence to others who might be tempted to target Jews.
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