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Man jailed for ripping off Muslim woman's veil loses appeal

William Baikie admitted carrying out the assault on the student from Saudi Arabia.

Appeal court: Man jailed for pulling off woman's veil

A man who was jailed for two years for ripping off a Muslim woman's veil in Glasgow city centre has lost his appeal.

William Baikie, 28, had claimed that the prison term he was given after admitting the assault at Glasgow Central Station was excessive.

But judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that a sheriff was entitled to impose the punishment he selected.

Lord Osborne, who heard the appeal with Lord Reed, said Sheriff Lindsay Wood had described the crime as "appalling and deeply intrusive".

The senior judge said: "We are not of the view that that is an overstatement of the character of the offence."

"We consider that it would require little imagination on the part of anyone to foresee what the likely effect would be of committing an offence of this kind, particularly in the circumstances in which we live."

Baikie, described as a prisoner in Glasgow's Barlinnie jail, earlier pled guilty to forcibly tearing off Anwar Alqahtani's hijab on April 27 this year in a racially aggravated assault at Hope Street.

Saudi Arabia

The married 26-year-old victim, from Saudi Arabia, was studying for a masters degree in English after arriving in Scotland in January.

Sheriff Wood was told at Glasgow Sheriff Court that she followed the teaching of the Koran and as a mark of devotion wore the hijab to protect her modesty.

She was entering Glasgow's Central Station when Baikie came up beside her, seized the veil and tore it from her face before throwing it away. He then ran off.

The victim's hijab was torn and she had to use a piece of cloth to cover her face before catching her train and arriving home very upset.

The sheriff said he was told Ms Alqahtani felt utterly violated and was badly shocked and gave up her university studies in the wake of the assault.

Baikie, who has previous convictions for serious assault and for racist offences, was drunk at the time of the offence, the court heard.

But the sheriff said: "There was no doubt that despite being drunk, he knew what he was doing in deliberately targeting the lady.

"I considered the offence to be appalling and deeply intrusive to a lady of such beliefs. There was no doubt that it had had a traumatic effect which would be long lasting," he said in a report to the appeal judges.

The sheriff said that Baikie would have faced a three jail sentence for the crime, but for his early guilty plea.

Baikie's counsel Chris Shead told the appeal court that there was no challenge to the entitlement of the sheriff to impose a jail sentence, but argued the length of the sentence was excessive.

He said it had been made abundantly plain that Baikie was deeply ashamed of his behaviour and that remained the position.

Mr Shead said that with Baikie recognising his conduct was "unacceptable" and taking into account the circumstances of the offence he would urge the appeal judges to consider that the sheriff had gone "too far" in selecting his starting point when sentencing.

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