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Last Updated: Monday, 16 July 2007, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Man, 22, admits 'racist' website
A supermarket worker who set up an internet website which had undertones of racism and homophobia has narrowly escaped a jail sentence.

Andrew Love, of Falkirk, mocked blacks, muslims, homosexuals, the disabled and other minority groups.

In a case believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland, Love, 22, pleaded guilty to a charge of racially aggravated breach of the peace.

He was sentenced Love to carry out 160 hours of community service.

Sheriff William Gallacher described the offence as "disgraceful conduct, very serious and unpleasant" and said he had "reached the stage of considering a custodial sentence".

He said he had been swayed not to jail Love by the fact he had no previous convictions and had pled guilty at an early opportunity.

The charge stated Love produced and managed an internet website that contained material of a nature that was racist, derogatory and insulting to ethnic minority groups, disabled people and homosexuals.

The site had started to take on undertones of racism and homophobia and contained derogatory remarks about disabled and unfortunate members of society
Prosecutor Alistair McSporran

It also threatened violence towards a work colleague. The offence was committed between June 2005 and January 2006.

Love, an economics graduate who lives with his parents at Oak Hill View, Maddiston, set up the site in 2005 and invited fellow staff members at Falkirk's branch of Morrisons supermaket, where he worked, to log in.

Prosecuting, Alistair McSporran told Falkirk Sheriff Court that at first the website featured only "amusing or supposedly amusing stories and anecdotes", and nothing particularly offensive.

But in time admin manager Mark Kerr became concerned.

Mr McSporran said: "Mr Kerr had accessed the site reasonably regularly and was amused by it.

"But around December 2005 the tone had changed.

"The site had started to take on undertones of racism and homophobia and contained derogatory remarks about disabled and unfortunate members of society."

'Disgusting website'

Among its feaures was a video clip recorded on a mobile phone, showing a member of Morrisons' staff playing the harmonica at a Christmas party.

Mr McSporran said the staff member concerned had suffered a childhood illness which had left him slow of speech and with his right hand bent backwards.

Love had captioned the clip "The Company Gimp" and invited people to download "Gimpmonica Ring Tones".

The court heard Mr Kerr spoke to Love and told him to take it off the site, and he did so but then told internet viewers that the clip had been taken down on Mr Kerr's instructions.

'Gross misjudgement'

He invited Mr Kerr to respond to a derogatory and threatening e-mail address he set up specially for the purpose - and published Mr Kerr's e-mail address and his home postcode.

Love was suspended by Morrisons.

He resigned a few days later and the police were called in.

Love was arrested and during a police interview showed what Mr McSporran described as "a dawning realisation" that the material was not funny.

Defence advocate David McLeod said the views on the site were not Love's own, but had been intended to shock.

He said Love, presently working for another supermarket, had shown "gross misjudgement" and was now "remorseful" of his actions.




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