A “sad, grey man” who sprayed racist graffiti on the door of his African neighbour’s home has been jailed.
Vaughan Dowd, 55, vandalised the front door of Jackson Yamba, 38, and his 10-year-old son with the phrase “No blacks” at their flat in Salford, Manchester.
After seeing the graffiti as they left home for work and school, the boy cried and Mr Yamba, who came to the UK from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, said the attack had left him fearful and angry.
The same graffiti was daubed in the same white paint on an internal communal door and the entry door to the block of flats.
Brexit and immigration were “playing on” Dowd’s mind when he committed the crime, his lawyer told Manchester Crown Court.
Dowd, a single man with no children, spent his time working then drinking alcohol and watching television, the court heard.
The self-employed gardener described himself as a “grey man” who led a sad life and would “plod along”, defence barrister Iain Johnstone said.
He had pleaded guilty to a single count of racially aggravated criminal damage on 8 February.
Jailing him for 12 months on Thursday, Judge Alan Conrad QC told the defendant: “This country, in particular this area, the cities of Salford and Manchester, have a long and proud history of diversity and inclusivity.
“We welcome those who, having a right to come here, do so and when they do, lead decent and productive lives. What you did was not welcome in any civilised society.
“You have experienced anxiety, but then again many people experience anxiety and would not dream of behaving as you did.
“In reality, this was simply an outpouring of racist views held by you for which there is no excuse.”
Mr Johnstone said Dowd only had one previous conviction, from 27 years ago when he forged a work sick note, and was effectively “of good character”.
He said his client did not present as someone with “entrenched” racist views. He added: “It appears what happened … in some way Brexit and immigration was playing on his mind. Mr Dowd maintains he’s not racist.”
Outside court Mr Yamba welcomed the sentence, but said he believed racism, not Brexit, was behind Dowd’s actions.
He said: “What’s Brexit have to do with it? People can debate about it. I don’t think it’s Brexit, just racism.
“I think it’s quite a good sentence. It reflects the gravity or seriousness of the offence for me, and I think it sends a clear message.”
The matter only came to light after Mr Yamba tweeted a photo of his front door and complained that no police had been to see him after he reported the attack.
It led to uproar online, and an apology from Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.
Dowd was caught by CCTV installed in the flats and by police checking the record of key-fob entries to the block.
He has now lost his tenancy at the housing association flats where he had lived for 25 years but Mr Yamba is also considering leaving.
While heartened by gifts and messages of support from locals, Mr Yamba said he worries about bringing his son up in the area and may move out of Greater Manchester.
Additional reporting by PA