A man who placed a pig’s head outside a community centre used for prayers by Muslims has been warned he faces a possible jail sentence for the offence.
Liam Ferrar (24) appeared at Leicester Magistrates’ Court today to admit religiously aggravated harassment aimed at the Muslim community.
The court heard that Ferrar had acquired the pig’s head at a wedding the previous summer and kept it in a freezer at his home in Brook Road, Thurnby Lodge, Leicester.
On Christmas night, December 25, he went to the Thurnby Lodge Community Centre, in Thurncourt Road, and placed the head by the locked doors, facing out towards the Muslim worshippers who arrived at the centre the following morning.
The community centre has been the scene of regular protests over a former Scout hut nearby which Leicester City Council was going to allow Muslim group As Salaam to use for prayers. The protesters wanted the Scout hut to be kept for use by the wider community.
The court was told the protests had involved racial abuse being shouted by members of the Forgotten Estates campaign group, and other insults.
Group member Ferrar, who at times acted as a liaison between the protest group and the police, was recognised by officers viewing CCTV footage. After being arrested on December 28, he “became tearful” and confessed, the court was told.
Louise Cocks, prosecuting, said: “The defendant is a member of the Forgotten Estates group that has been involved in the protests about the use of the Scout hut. There’s intelligence about this defendant playing a fundamental role in the protest group.”
Miss Cocks said that on Boxing Day morning, members of As Salaam arrived at the community centre to find the pig’s head. Moulana Mohammed Lockhat, the Imam for the As Salaam group, decided to call the police, who went to remove the head.
Miss Cocks said Mr Lockhat said in his statement that the incident was “extremely distressing”. “The pig is a creature Muslims are forbidden from using any part of,” she said. Miss Cocks added: “He says that prior to the pig’s head incident he received malicious communications in relation to pig’s heads and blood.”
After Ferrar’s guilty plea, the case was adjourned for a probation report. District judge John Temperley told Ferrar it was an “extremely serious case” and that “all options, including custody” were being considered.
Ferrar has been required by a court order to live outside the area and has been staying with a relative in Leicester’s West End. Steve Morris, representing Ferrar, made an application for his applicant to be allowed back onto the Thurnby Lodge estate, but the application was declined.
Ferrar is due back at Leicester Magistrates’ Court at 10am on Monday, February 18, for sentencing.
For the background to Forgotten Estates see here and here. Despite the organisation’s clear links to the far right, Leicester mayor Peter Soulsby saw fit to give them control of the disputed scout hut rent-free for the next two years. As Salaam, meanwhile, have been offered alternative premises at an unaffordable rent. Did someone mention a “two-tier system”?