Monday, 8 May 2017

West Ham Fan Tweeted "Stick Your Head In The Oven" To Jewish Holocaust Survivor After Spurs Defeat

'Oven' Tweet: Harding
A drunken West Ham United football fan tweeted the founder of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust: “Stick your head in the oven like the jew you are,” following a defeat to Spurs.

Mark Harding, 48, communicated the sick tweet to 72 year-old Hungarian-born survivor Agnes Grunwald-Spier, who left “upset” and “offended.”

She survived the Nazi’s Budapest Ghetto, where she was sent with her mother in November, 1944, moving to the UK three years later after the murder of her father in Auschwitz.

She is an MBE and was on the Board of Deputies of British Jews for fifteen years and has an MA in Holocaust Studies from Sheffield University.

Harding, of Charlotte Street, Walsall pleaded guilty to sending a tweet of an indecent or offensive nature for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety on November 19, last year.

Last week he was sentenced to eighteen weeks imprisonment, suspended for twelve months and ordered to complete 60 hours community service work.

He also followed up with a secondary tweet to the mother-of-three of: “Hope you, your wife (corr) and kids die in a freak car accident.”

Survivor: Agnes Meeting Charles & Camilla 
Prosecutor Miss Stella Waata told Hendon Magistrates Court: “This is religiously or racially-aggravated and came from the twitter account of ‘Hammer68’ that belongs to Mr. Harding.

“She is a jew and found the tweet to be anti-semitic. She was upset and offended.

“She was a baby in Hungary during the holocaust, her family suffered in the holocaust. Her father was killed Auschwitz, he was probably gassed.

“She does not understand how anyone can write such things and wants Mr. Harding to know how offensive it is to a jewish person.”

Harding denies targeting Mrs Grunwald-Spier, claiming he got caught up in post-match online “banter” with Tottenham Hotspur football fans after they beat his team 3-2.

The north London club is well-known for having a large contingent of jewish supporters.

Fork-lift driver Harding gave himself up to police and told them he had consumed six pints while watching the match in a pub near his mother’s Evesham home.

“He was upset his team had lost and when he returned to his mother’s home continued drinking,” explained Ms Waata.

“He said he got involved in banter with a lot of Tottenham fans, who were abusive to him and he said it was football banter and did not mean any offence.

“He said he did not remember sending the tweet.”

Harding’s lawyer Ms Sarj Patel told the court: “He’s now lost his good character and it is his first ever time in court and he has found it quite distressing and blames himself for that.

“He is unfortunately wrapped up in football culture and is a West Ham supporter.

“He was quite upset West Ham had lost, he follows them religiously and took to twitter and all the banter started.

“He was abused by numerous people, Tottenham fans, and got caught up in it and gave as good as he got.

“This was not an attack on this person, he did not know who that person was.

“It was a very, very silly comment he tells me. It was more reckless than with any intent and he is totally ashamed by this.

“He want to apologise to this lady through me. It was not a direct attack on her, but football banter that got out of control.”

Magistrate Mr. Harvey Simons told Harding: “The nature of the message was particularly hurtful and particularly obnoxious, causing offence to the victim and potentially to other followers and is aggravated by the racial element.”

Harding was also ordered to pay £85 costs, a £115 victim surcharge and £150 compensation to Mrs Grunwald-Spier.

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