Saturday, May 10, 2008

Conservative Councillor - Taxi Fracas

A former Tory councillor was this week bound over to keep the peace for his involvement in a racially motivated attack on a cabbie.

Businessman Shaun Smith, 38, had arrived at Manchester Airport with partner Amanda Ahlgreen, 39, when she became involved in a fracas at the taxi rank. Smith arrived on the scene and after a brief row, the police were called and the pair were arrested.

Smith, of Trigg Lane, Chorley, was bound over to keep the peace for 12 months.

At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Mr Recorder Driver told Smith: "You became involved in a shameful incident of disorder on that night.

"You now know, even if you didn't know it then, your partner had committed a criminal offence against members of the public shortly before you became involved."

Not guilty verdicts were recorded on three charges of racially aggravated harassment, assault by beating and racially aggravated assault by beating, against Smith.

Ahlgreen admitted one count of racially aggravated breach of the peace.

Earlier the court heard the incident occurred in June last year when the couple returned to Manchester Airport where Ahlgreen entered into an argument with the man in charge of the taxi rank during which she made a comment of a racist nature.

Defending Smith, Keith Harrison said: "He was not present when Ahlgreen made the most offensive comments. He does accept he became involved in the incident to a certain extent but he was not present when Ahlgreen made the most offensive comments."

Defending Ahlgreen, Patrick Buckley, said: "In a moment of madness she let slip remarks that were deeply offensive - she deeply regrets them. There has been no repetition since or no incident before this."

Granting her unconditional bail, Mr Recorder Driver said: "You pleaded guilty to a serious offence and the judge who sentences you will have the full range of sentencing options available to him."

Ahlgreen will be sentenced on July 2.

Councillor Smith was elected as a Tory councillor in 2004 with a majority of 256.

Peter Goldsworthy, leader of Conservative-led Chorley Council, said: "At the moment Shaun Smith is not a member of the Conservative party.

"It will be up to a group meeting to be held in the next two weeks to decide whether he is admitted back in."

Donna Hall, council chief executive, said: "In terms of his role as a councillor, he would only have been automatically disqualified if he'd received a custodial sentence of three months or more."

An early report on the Chorley Citizen website, suggested that the charges against Mr Smith be ordered to lie on file and that the charge against Ahlgreen related to racially aggravated harassment.

This was in fact incorrect.


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