A man who daubed racist graffiti on a family’s front door has been jailed for 12 months.
Vaughan Dowd, 55, spray-painted “no blacks” onto Jackson Yamba’s front door, five days after the solicitor moved into the block of flats with his 10-year-old son.
Mr Yamba, 38, came to the UK from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, and moved into the apartment block in Salford, where Dowd also lived.
Dowd, 55, a single man with no children, led a “sad life” and spent his time working, drinking alcohol and watching television, with “Brexit and immigration playing on his mind”, Manchester Crown Court heard.
His defence lawyer Ian Johnstone said Dowd described himself as a “grey man” who simply “plodded along” in life.
Mr Yamba said he and his son David spotted the offensive message as they left home one day.
The 38-year-old said the attack reduced David to tears, and left him feeling fearful and angry.
The words were also daubed in the same white paint on an internal communal door and the entry door to the block of flats.
Dowd, a self-employed gardener, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a single count of racially aggravated criminal damage on February 8.
Jailing him for 12 months, Judge Alan Conrad QC told the defendant: “This country, in particular this area, the cities of Salford and Manchester, have a long and proud history of diversity and inclusivity.
“We welcome those who, having a right to come here, do so and when they do, lead decent and productive lives. What you did was not welcome in any civilised society.
“You have experienced anxiety, but then again many people experience anxiety and would not dream of behaving as you did.
“In reality, this was simply an outpouring of racist views held by you for which there is no excuse.
“It must be made clear that imprisonment will follow offences such as this.”
Mr Johnstone said his client came from a respectable family, and did not present as someone with “entrenched” racist views.
He said Dowd was effectively “of good character” and had only one previous conviction from 27 years ago, when he forged a work sick note.
“Mr Dowd maintains he’s not racist,” he added, explaining that his family, friends and neighbours found his actions inexplicable.
Mr Johnstone read a reference from Dowd’s family, which said: “They would like to sincerely and utterly and unreservedly apologise for this upset to Mr Yamba and his son and everyone who this incident has caused upset and offence to.There must be something underlying for this to have happened.”
Mr Yamba welcomed the sentence, but said racism, not Brexit, were behind Dowd’s actions.
Speaking outside court he told reporters: “What’s Brexit have to do with it? People can debate about it. I don’t think it’s Brexit, just racism.
“I think it’s quite a good sentence. It reflects the gravity or seriousness of the offence for me, and I think it sends a clear message.”
The matter only came to light after Mr Yamba tweeted a photo of his front door and complained that no police had been to see him after he reported the attack.
It led to widespread outrage online and an apology from Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.
Dowd was captured on the apartment block’s CCTV and by police checking the record of key-fob entries to the building.
He has now lost his tenancy at the housing association flats where he’d lived for 25 years but Mr Yamba is also considering relocating to Leeds.
While heartened by the many gifts and messages of support from locals, Mr Yamba said he worried about bringing his son up in the area and may move out of Greater Manchester.