A man has been jailed for unleashing a horrendous racist rampage on a US Army veteran from Todmorden.
Aaron Cauchi, 19, Robert Molloy, 20, and another youth, aged 16, were drinking and “looking for trouble” when Juan Jasso was subjected to a torrent of abuse and told to “get back to Africa” last year.
The former serviceman from Texas, who has been living in the UK for 18 years, challenged the youths who were swearing and shouting on a tram packed with mothers with babies in buggies, schoolchildren and commuters.
The three then turned on Mr Jasso, Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard. The incident was caught on camera and quickly went viral.
Molloy, the instigator, hurled abuse at Mr Jasso and flicked beer over him from the bottle he was holding before all three got off the tram.
Cauchi, a father of one, Molloy, both jobless, and the youth went on to spit in the face of a cyclist and attack another man, all the victims on their way to work on the morning of June 28 last year, days after the EU referendum vote.
All three each pleaded guilty to three offences at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on Monday shortly before their trial was due to begin.
Molloy was jailed for six months on Tuesday but sentencing of Cauchi was adjourned and an ambulance called after he complained of stomach pains and lay down on the floor outside the courtroom before he was due to face punishment.
James McDermott, mitigating for Cauchi, who is of Maltese extraction, said: “This incident occurred five days after the EU referendum, clearly several months leading up to the referendum those in positions of great responsibility employed divisive rhetoric that clearly has had an impact, there’s been a huge increase in the number of similar incidents.
“That’s not offered as an excuse, but I would suggest the time and background is something your worships can bear in mind.”
The EU vote resulted in a 41 per cent increase in hate crime, according to Home Office statistics.
Jailing Molloy, chair of the bench Michael Evans told him: “Hopefully on your release from prison a lesson will be learned and you will be able to make a positive contribution and treat people with respect.”
Minutes after the tram attack the three surrounded Alistair Lambert, who was with a female work colleague, “with their chests stuck out and shoulders back”.
The trio struck Mr Lambert with a cigarette lighter to intimidate him, Mr O’Connor said.
They then passed Andrew Guest, who was cycling to work, shortly after.
One or more spat in his face and down his body.
When video of the tram attack went viral, all three were identified and later arrested.
Cauchi, of Spa Crescent, Little Hulton, Salford, pleaded guilty to using threatening words or behaviour to Mr Jasso and Mr Lambert and assault on Mr Guest.
Molloy, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated assault on Mr Jasso, common assault on Mr Guest and using threatening words and behaviour to Mr Lambert.
He was jailed for six months, ordered to pay £400 costs and pay £50 to each victim.
He was also given a Criminal Behaviour Order banning him from using the tram in Greater Manchester for two years.
Lorna Wincote, mitigating for Molloy, who had previous convictions for burglary and assault, said he had a diagnosed “conduct disorder”, came from a broken home and was homeless.
The 16-year-old was dealt with on Monday and received a six-month referral order and was ordered to pay £100 costs and £60 compensation.
Cauchi was later granted bail in his absence until sentencing on February 21.