Paul Bussetti, 49, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to sending a grossly offensive video of a cardboard model of Grenfell Tower being burned on a bonfire
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A man who pleaded guilty to sending a grossly offensive video of a cardboard model of Grenfell Tower being burned on a bonfire has narrowly avoided jail.
Paul Bussetti was given a 10 week prison sentence – suspended for two years – at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
The 49-year-old, from Croydon, south London, pleaded guilty to one count when he appeared in court this morning.
Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring said he was “horrified” when he saw the film.
He said: “It was disgusting, it was disrespectful, it was abhorrent and it was – by the nature of the charge – grossly offensive. “I suspect it was offensive to almost everybody who has an ounce of decency about them.”
He 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.
A video shared on social media showed a cardboard model of the tower being set alight at a bonfire party in south east London.
In the video, people watching the burning could be heard laughing and mockingly shouting “stay in your flats” – a reference to the advice families who lived in the west London block of flats were initially told as it was engulfed in flames.
One man in the footage waggled a cutout of a person in a window, several of which appeared to have been coloured brown.
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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 defendant also uttered siren noises.
Another person – not Bussetti – made a racist comment, while people present could be heard laughing.
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.”
The video was widely condemned by Grenfell Tower campaign groups, the Prime Minister and London mayor Sadiq Khan.
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