Russell Findlay, Sunday Mail (UK), September 17, 2006
A Driver spent two nights in jail after being accused of “revving his car in a racist manner”.
Mechanic Ronnie Hutton, 49, yesterday described his court ordeal which finally ended when prosecutors dropped the allegation of racism.
But he was still convicted of a breach of the peace for revving the engine of his £25,000 Lotus.
Witnesses claimed he had been trying to intimidate a Libyan couple on the pavement. Ronnie, of Stirling, claims he was only revving the powerful V8 engine to avoid another £15,000 repair bill.
But off-duty Chief Inspector Eoin Jenkins thought he was targeting Muslim Isam Maigel and his wife Hana Saad.
And when Jenkins, now retired, confronted Ronnie he was told to “f*** off”.
On Thursday, at Stirling Sheriff court, the Crown ditched the racist part of the charge but Sheriff Andrew Cubie convicted Ronnie of breach of the peace and fined him £150.
Last night, he said: “To be convicted for revving my car in a busy street is hard to take. Does this mean anyone driving a noisy car in Scotland is now a criminal?”
Following the row last September, police officers arrived at Ronnie’s home and asked him to come with them to talk about the incident. He ended up being kept in a cell for two nights before being taken to court where he was released without charge.
He complained to the fiscal and the new charges surfaced months later. He said: “The police kept me in custody over the weekend because I made the mistake of swearing at a senior officer.”
In court, Mr Maigel, 28, then a student at Stirling Uni, said: “The driver came alongside and was trying to annoy us by revving his engine very, very loudly.”
Using an interpreter, Hana Saad, 23, said he had degraded them “maybe because we are Muslim”.
Ronnie claims he was only trying to prevent the repeat of a engine problem had had suffered earlier with the Esprit.
He said: “I’ve had problems with the Lotus since I bought it. I paid £15,000 for a new engine in 2003.
“As soon as I started the car the oil pressure light wouldn’t go out. I accept I revved the engine – it’s a V8 twin turbo and is noisy and frightening.
“I would openly apologise to this couple. I am not a racist.”
He is now considering an appeal against his conviction – and also plans to sell the Lotus. He said: “It has been nothing but trouble.”
‘He tried to annoy us by revving his engine very loudly’ Isam Maigel
HIBS and Hearts stars have joined forces as part of a campaign to give racism the boot.
Both sets of players will hold up red cards before the first Edinburgh derby of the season kicks off at Easter Road on October 15.
Stars from across the football divide met at the City Chambers in Edinburgh yesterday at the launch of the Show Racism the Red Card action plan.
Hibs midfielder Michael Stewart joined Hearts players Jose Conclaves and Andy Diver as plans were announced to contact pupils from 32 primary schools across Edinburgh.
The initiative has already been launched in Glasgow and the anti-racism message will be spread across the country.
Former Celtic player Gerry Britton has taken on the role as educational co-ordinator.
Gerry said:”It’s great that we’re establishing strong links with Edinburgh city council.
“We have to tackle the problem of racism and educating the school children is a good place to start. It is important for the big clubs to be pro-active.
“Racism is a bigger problem at grassroots level in football and we have to look at the reasons for this.”
Michael Stewart said: “I’m delighted to be asked along to help out.”