UK: A 25-YEAR-OLD man has been convicted of religiously aggravated assault after ripping off a Sikh man’s turban for a dare.
Ashley Cicatello, pictured below, had spent the afternoon in the pub with his mates when they spotted the victim working in a supermarket.
He told his friends to film his actions for the internet before going up behind the victim and pulling his turban off.
Cicatello, of Dunkirk, Newcastle, admitted assault but denied it was religiously motivated.
But magistrates convicted him yesterday following a trial at North Staffordshire Justice Centre.
Sikh men are not permitted to cut their hair and must keep their heads covered. Normally turbans are only removed in the most intimate of circumstances, when bathing the head, or washing the hair.
The victim told the court the incident on December 27 had devastating consequences for him.
Giving evidence he said: “Taking a turban off a Sikh guy in public is just like hanging him in public. After this I was not able to face my colleagues.
“If this happened in India a man would never go to this place again, it is that disgraceful.
“My self-esteem and confidence – everything has been shattered because of this incident.”
The court heard Cicatello had gone to the store at 5pm to buy beer with three friends.
He had drunk ‘four or five pints’ and four Jager Bombs – a mixture of spirit Jagermeister and Red Bull.
A staff member heard Cicatello say to his mates: “Have you got it on record? This is going on YouTube,” before he grabbed the turban from the victim’s head.
He then ran off with it and was chased through the store before being detained by security.
Police attended and Cicatello was arrested. He told police he had been ‘an absolute prat’.
Giving evidence at his trial he said: “I got dared to take the turban off his head. It was nothing to do with his religion or the colour of his skin.
“It was just being stupid. I just did it because I wanted to be the class clown.”
He told magistrates he ran off with the turban because he ‘panicked’ when he saw the anger on the victim’s face.
Magistrates did not accept Cicatello’s claims that the incident was not religiously motivated.
Carol Brown, chairman of the bench, said: “Mr Cicatello caused gratuitous degradation of the victim which has resulted in an ongoing effect on the injured party.
“This was a person working in the public sector in a public place.
“It’s our belief that the defendant demonstrated hostility to the person who wore the turban, and therefore we find him guilty.”
Following the verdict Nicola Bell, representing Cicatello, said he was in full-time work and had not been before the courts for five years.
She said: “He is mortified by his actions. He has given a formal apology to the injured party.”
Sentence was adjourned to allow a report to be prepared on Cicatello by the Probation Service. He was bailed to appear again on March 18.
Source: This is Staffordshire News