Man spared jail for throwing milkshake over Nigel Farage
A man who threw milkshake over Nigel Farage has been spared jail after a court heard he has lost his job following his “politically motivated” attack.
Paul Crowther, 32, launched the £5.25 Five Guys banana and salted caramel milkshake over the Brexit Party leader while he was campaigning in Newcastle upon Tyne on May 20.
The married former Sky employee has been dismissed following the incident, North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court was told.
He admitted assault and criminal damage to a £239 lapel microphone on Mr Farage’s suit.
The prosecution suggested Crowther should pay compensation to have the suit cleaned.
District Judge Bernard Begley said: “The offences are serious enough for me to impose a community order.
“I don’t have in mind imprisonment for you.”
He will pass sentence after Crowther has met Probation Service staff.
James Long, prosecuting, said: “I suppose for the split second the attack took place, Mr Farage would not know whether it was a harmless liquid or something, in this day and age, far more sinister.”
He said it was clear from a Facebook posting before the incident that Crowther intended to throw milkshake on the politician.
A friend replied saying: “I hope you return to the office sans milkshake.”
It took 20 minutes for a police van to take him away after he was arrested, and Crowther was interviewed by journalists, including by the Press Association.
At the time he justified his actions, saying he did not regret it and that “the bile and racism” spouted by Mr Farage was far worse than having milkshake poured on him, the court heard.
He later told police when he was interviewed that it was a “moment of madness”, “a loss of control” and he watched himself do it.
Mr Farage gave a statement to the police, saying: “Without warning this male has thrown a liquid substance directly at me.”
He said it splashed all over him and in his face, leaving him embarrassed as it happened in full view of the public and media and put an end to his campaigning in Newcastle.
In a victim statement, the politician added: “I am concerned because of the behaviour of individuals like this, the normal democratic process cannot continue in a lawful and peaceful manner.”
Brian Hegarty, defending, said there was a long history of protesters throwing food at politicians going back hundreds if not thousands of years, although the items may have changed from fish, to fruit, to eggs and on to milkshakes.
He said Crowther now regretted his lunchtime actions, saying: “The defendant has had cause to reflect and, having done so, he would say he wished he would not have acted as he did.”
Crowther, who has an interest in politics, believed in democracy and did not want to be seen to be trying to silence people with whom he disagreed, the court was told.
Mr Hegarty said Mr Farage had identified his client as a “radical Remainer” but he would dispute that claim and he believes the 2016 referendum result should be respected, although Crowther thought we should leave under different terms from those suggested by the Brexit Party leader.
Since the incident he has suffered from repeated threats of violence and has had regular police checks to his address in Throckley, Newcastle, the judge was told.
He has been dismissed from his job and threats have been made to a dog charity where he volunteered, the court heard.
Mr Hegarty said the attack was not premeditated for long and pointed out the £5.25 price of the milkshake and that there were cheaper options nearby that he could have gone to if it was a planned incident.
A GoFundMe page entitled Get Paul Crowther his Milkshake Money Back was closed after it reached £1,705.
Mr Hegarty said: “Ordinarily a man of his position would receive a caution.
“The fact is, it is said to be a politically motivated incident which has caused him to appear before this court and caused him to lose his good name.”