London

Sharing Grenfell effigy video was 'stupid moment'

Grenfell effigy
Image caption The footage of a model of Grenfell Tower burning was shown in court

A man who filmed a cardboard effigy of Grenfell Tower being added to a bonfire says he has "no idea" why he took the footage and shared it on WhatsApp.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard Paul Bussetti, 46, from South Norwood, south London, told police it was a "stupid moment".

The "grossly offensive" clip was shared on WhatsApp and uploaded to YouTube.

Mr Bussetti denies sending or causing grossly offensive material to be sent via a public communications network.

Prosecutor Philip Stott said someone else took the model, which had Grenfell Tower written on the side of it, to the bonfire on 3 November.

The court heard it featured characters "hanging off it as though they were falling".

A comment can be heard on the video referring to a "ninja", which Mr Stott says the prosecution believes refers to a figure on the tower which is dressed in black and wearing a niqab.

'Revolting'

Mr Bussetti voluntarily attended Croydon police station two days after the bonfire, by which time the footage had been widely shared online.

In a police interview played in court, he said it was "one of those stupid moments".

He added: "It was just sick. There was no purpose. It was just a horrible video."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Mr Bussetti told the police that he did not intend for it to be uploaded to YouTube

Mr Bussetti said he had not intended the video to go viral and that it did not support any agenda.

"Not going to blame it on the drink, I don't know why I done it but I didn't think they would broadcast it," he said.

"It was just stupidness really, everyone had a drink but, yeah, it was just complete stupidness."

Mr Bussetti denies two counts against him.

He does not dispute filming the footage and sharing it to two WhatsApp groups with about 20 members, however his legal team dispute it is "grossly offensive" to have sent it to the private groups.

His lawyer Mark Summers QC argued that Mr Bussetti did not intend for it to end up on YouTube, where it was uploaded by someone else.

'Satirical'

Mr Summers told the court: "That joke was hurtful, distasteful, mocking, disgusting but the authorities are, we say, abundantly clear.

"A public expression of hurtful humour such as that is protected by Article 10."

Of the effigy, Mr Summers said: "This was, whatever one thinks of it, an artistic effort. It was a model. It was satirical."

He also argued that an encrypted private WhatsApp chat cannot be considered a public communications network under the Communications Act 2003.

But following an application to dismiss the case, chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said she was satisfied there was a case to answer on both counts.

The footage was branded "revolting" by the aunt of 12-year-old Jessica Urbano Ramirez, who died in the fire.

In a statement read to the court, Sandra Ruiz said: "The video made a mockery of her death. To see people making a mockery of that is vile."

The blaze at the block of flats in west London on June 14 2017 killed 72 people.

The trial was adjourned until 22 August.

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