Man admits sending ‘grossly offensive’ video of Grenfell Tower effigy on bonfire

A man has admitted sending a “grossly offensive” viral video of a cardboard model of Grenfell Tower being burned on a bonfire.

Paul Bussetti, 49, from Sundial Avenue in Croydon, south London, pleaded guilty to one count when he appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Bussetti was previously found not guilty after a two-day trial but the acquittal was quashed by the High Court.

Bussetti filmed the footage, which was taken at an annual bonfire party hosted by a friend in November 2018, and was shared in WhatsApp groups.

It prompted outrage when it was shared widely online and made the national news, and was criticised as “vile” by a relative of one of the 72 victims of the 2017 disaster in west London.

The court heard there were direct and indirect references to the residents of Grenfell Tower in the footage.

They included comments of: “Who’s jumping?”; “Don’t worry, stay in your flats”; and “Jump out of the window”.

The court heard Bussetti said: “That’s what happens when you don’t pay the rent.”

The model of Grenfell Tower being burned
The cardboard model of Grenfell Tower being burned (screengrab/PA)

The defendant also uttered siren noises.

Another person – not Bussetti – made a racist comment, while people present could be heard laughing.

Bussetti, wearing a dark suit and white shirt, shook his head in the dock as details of his comments were repeated in court.

The court heard he handed himself in to police when the footage went viral.

Bussetti sent the video to two WhatsApp groups – one football-related, and one for a holiday group.

He is said to have told police: “It was all over the telly and so we thought it was better to tell the truth.

“It was terrible, definitely offensive to people, it was just complete stupidness (sic), one of those stupid moments.”

A victim impact statement on behalf of the Grenfell victims said: “The overall reaction of the Grenfell community was one of shock, horror and outrage.”

Bussetti, through his lawyer, said it was not his intention to cause offence, but rather to mock his own friends privately.

A video of the effigy was posted on YouTube, although Bussetti was not responsible for this, nor was it established whether it was Bussetti’s video which was uploaded and went viral.