Angie Raphael – AAP January 31, 2011
The Jewish victim of a verbal racial attack says a three-year prison term given to the man who called him a “racist, homicidal maniac” outside a Perth supermarket is not enough.
Brendan Lee O’Connell, 40, was sentenced in the District Court in Perth on Monday after being found guilty on Friday of six racial hatred charges.
Chuckling and smiling as the counts were read out to him, O’Connell appeared unaffected by the sentence handed down by Judge Henry Wisbey.
O’Connell represented himself before a jury after firing the lawyer who had been defending him against an accusation that he posted an anti-semitic video online.
He faced seven charges related to the posting of a verbal altercation he had with Stanley Keyser and Timothy Peach, who are Jewish, and was found guilty on six.
An argument broke out between the three men at an IGA supermarket in South Perth on May 2, 2009, where a Friends of Palestine group was holding a protest against Israeli oranges.
O’Connell was using a video camera at the event and in a video he later posted online, he labelled Mr Keyser a “racist, homicidal maniac”.
“You have a religion of racism, hate, homicide and ethnic cleansing,” he said in the video.
During the trial, O’Connell refused to acknowledge Judge Wisbey when he entered the court and, instead, rose to bow to the jury.
Judge Wisbey said O’Connell showed no remorse and his behaviour “was that of a bully”.
About a dozen supporters in the court cheered when O’Connell labelled the proceedings “a kangaroo court” and gave a long, repetitive rant about the King James Bible and the Constitution.
On Monday, Judge Wisbey said O’Connell had shown no remorse for his offences and his behaviour “was that of a bully”.
As he was led out of court, O’Connell shouted: “Don’t forget about the Gazans!”
Outside court, Mr Keyser said O’Connell had forced him to “suffer” for 18 months.
“I wish he was in (prison) for longer,” he said as he rushed passed reporters.
Family friend Steve Lieblich told reporters it was a “very distressing” time for the Keyser family who were happy to have it over.
“I think it was a victory for decency and against bigotry and prejudice,” he said.
“On this occasion it was the Jewish people who were the target of this bigotry but on future occasions it could be Muslims or Asians or any group, so we should all be happy about this result.”
Mr Lieblich said he hoped O’Connell would have time to reflect on his views during his prison term.
He said the internet made it easy to “spread hatred” and it was important to address the issue.
“This has got nothing to do with free speech,” Mr Lieblich said.
“There’s clearly a limit to free speech, there’s a limit to all freedoms we have in society because we have to consider others.
“Words can hurt and cause a lot of damage and people need to recognise that they have to watch their words.”
O’Connell’s sentence has been backdated to January 24 and he will be eligible for parole, but a date for that period was not specified in court.