A man who taught his girlfriend’s “cute, wee” pet pug to do Nazi salutes has been found guilty of a race hate crime.
Mark Meechan, 29, who filmed the dog, named Buddha, responding to statements such as “Sieg Heil” and “gas the Jews”, will be sentenced later today.
Derek O’Carroll found him guilty of communicating a video which was “grossly offensive” because it was anti-Semitic and aggravated by religious prejudice.
Meechan, of Lanarkshire, Scotland, was arrested for allegedly committing a hate crime by uploading the ‘M8 Yer Dugs a Nazi’ video in April last year.
The defendant allegedly filmed the pug responding to statements such as “Sieg Heil” and “gas the Jews” (Image: SWNS)
His girlfriend, Suzanne Kelly, 29, told the court: “He made my cute wee dog look like a monster” (Image: SWNS)
Comedians Ricky Gervais and David Baddiel defended Meechan’s right to do jokes about the Holocaust, telling Mr Gervais that “you can do jokes about anything.”
Taking to Twitter the Office star asked his followers for their thoughts on the case.
He wrote: “A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was “grossly offensive”. Thoughts?”
He later added: If you don’t believe in a person’s right to say things that you might find “grossly offensive”, then you don’t believe in Freedom of Speech.”
Comedian Ricky Gervais has shown an interest in the case (Image: PA)
Meechan, of Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, claimed the video was made to annoy girlfriend, Suzanne Kelly, 29, and denied any wrongdoing.
The defendant, who said he has lost eight jobs since posting the video, claimed he only intended it to be seen by seven of his friends, who follow his YouTube channel, Count Dankula.
But he says the video was shared by someone on Reddit, which led to the surge in its popularity.
Meechan said it was “extraordinary bad luck” the video became so popular.
Giving evidence at his trial Meechan’s girlfriend Miss Kelly, a customer service advisor, described how her beloved pet is “just this wee fat, squishy dog”.
“I’m so used to him being cute and I carry him about like a baby and he was using it in the video to look like a monster,” she told the court.
“He made my cute wee dog look like a monster, Nazis are monsters.”
“I was just annoyed that he had made my dog look like something evil because he is a lovely little dog,” said the girlfriend
“I was just annoyed that he had made my dog look like something evil because he is a lovely little dog,” said the girlfriend (Image: SWNS)
Meechan, claims the video was “for the purposes of comedy”.
But Sheriff O’Carroll said the video, in which the phrase “gas the Jews” is repeated 23 times, was “threatening and grossly offensive.”
He found Meechan guilty of sending by “means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character”.
Giving his verdict to the court, O’Carroll today said: “In my view, there is no doubt it’s [the video] grossly offensive.”
He said Meechan knew the video was offensive as he said himself during his evidence that he “likes offensive comedy.”
Sheriff O’Carroll said: “He said he chose ‘gas the jews’ as it was the most offensive phrase associated with the Nazis that he could think of.
“It was the centrepiece of the joke. He said it was so extreme that it added to the comedy.”
Sheriff O’Carroll said Meechan “knew what he was doing” adding: “It is self-evident that the material is anti-semitic.”
Meechan, pictured with Buddha, has denied any wrongdoing in court (Image: SWNS)
The trial had earlier heard Ephraim Borowski, 66, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC), label the video ‘grossly offensive’.
Mr Borowski told the hearing he had lost members of his own family to the Nazis and insisted the Holocaust should not be joked about.
He added: “I’m no historian but it is the marching signal of the Nazi storm troopers who contributed and supported the murder of six million Jews including members of my own family and I take this all slightly personally.
“Material of this kind goes to normalise the anti-Semitic views that frankly we thought we had seen the last of. The Holocaust is not a subject for jocular content.”
He did not believe Meechan’s defence that the video was made as a private joke to annoy his girlfriend, as he had “not taken any steps to prevent the video being shared publically”.
In closing statements, during the trail at Airdrie Sheriff Court, Meechan’s defense agent Ross Brown said: “The purpose of the video was to annoy his girlfriend.
“There was no evidence to demonstrate that he intended, by communicating the material, to cause fear or alarm.”
He added that Meechan had only intended for the eight subscribers to his YouTube channel – all of which are friends who “share his sense of humour” – to see the video.
But Mr Brown said: “One of those friends leaked the material and so the content went viral.
“It was not a matter that was able to be reasonably foreseen.”
Defence agent Mr Brown also said there was no evidence that Meechan had intended to “stir up hatred on religious grounds.”
He pointed out that In a second video filmed by Meechan after the M8 video, that he had stated he had “no ill will towards the Jewish community.”
He stated the video was to be seen as “comedic or satirical.”
Mr Brown accused the crown of “promoting the phrase ‘gas the Jews’ out of context it was intended”.
He added: “Context is everything.”
Mr Brown said there was no evidence of a complainant in the case, adding Police Scotland was not contacted by anyone who found the video “grossly offensive or menacing.”
The court has also seen a second video where Meechan apologised for any offence the clips caused (Image: SWNS)
He slammed the authority saying Meechan’s arrest was “an attempt to demonstrate diversity credentials.”
He said: “The complainer would appear to be Police Scotland.”
Mr Brown said his client had been subjected to “perp walk” after claiming the media was alerted to Meechan’s arrest.
He said: “On his arrest, the media had been alerted and he was photographed before he even got to the police station, let alone before he got to court.
“This ‘perp walk’ as it is known in America is something I hope is never repeated here.”
Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson attended court today in support of Meechan.
Robinson, real name Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, said the case was a “huge free speech issue.”