A man who vandalised the front door of an African family's home with racist graffiti has been jailed for 12 months.
Vaughan Dowd, 55, defaced the home of 38-year-old Jackson Yamba five days after the solicitor moved into the same block of flats where the defendant lived in Irlams o’ th’ Height in Salford, Greater Manchester.
Dowd was jailed after pleading guilty to racially aggravated criminal damage at an earlier hearing.
The same graffiti was also daubed in the same white paint on an internal communal door and the entry door to the block of flats.
Jailing Dowd, 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.”
Iain Johnstone, defending Dowd, said the defendant only had one previous conviction – from 27 years ago, when he forged a work sick note – and was effectively “of good character”.
He said Dowd described himself as a “grey man” who led a sad life and would “plod along”.
Mr Johnstone said his client came from a respectable family, and did not present as someone with “entrenched” racist views, and his family, friends and neighbours found his actions inexplicable.
He added: “It appears what happened... in some way Brexit and immigration was playing on his mind.
“Mr Dowd maintains he’s not racist.”
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, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, welcomed the sentence, but said racism, not Brexit, were behind Dowd’s actions.
He said: “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.”
Mr Yamba said the attack left him fearful and angry, and his 10-year-old son became tearful upon seeing the graffiti.
The matter only came to light after the solicitor tweeted a photo of his front door and complained that police hadn't been to see him after he reported the attack.
It led to outrage online, and an apology from Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.
Superintendent Marcus Noden, of GMP’s Salford District, said: “This was a cowardly and spiteful act, and there is no place for this kind of hatred in Manchester or anywhere else.
“No one should be subjected to this kind of abuse, especially in their own home, and I hope the fact that Dowd must now face the consequences of his actions brings the victim some comfort.
“I also hope this acts as a reminder that Greater Manchester Police do not tolerate any form of hate crime, and we will actively pursue those responsible and ensure they are brought to justice.”
While heartened by the many gifts and messages of support from locals, Mr Yamba said he still worries about bringing his son up in the area and may move out of Greater Manchester.