Antisemitic abuse aimed at teen thieves

By Marcus Dysch, October 26, 2012
Hard road to Feltham: Gutweith and Broder  were ‘terrified’ there

Hard road to Feltham: Gutweith and Broder were ‘terrified’ there

Two teenagers who broke into a synagogue have been released from a young offenders’ institute after winning an appeal against their original sentences.

David Gutweith, 18, and Uriel Broder, 19, were initially ordered to serve 16 weeks in a young offenders’ institute earlier this month after admitting taking part in a burglary at the Beth Shmuel Synagogue in Golders Green.

On Monday, Wood Green Crown Court heard the pair had suffered “shocking” antisemitic abuse during their 18 days at Feltham Young Offenders’ Institute in west London.

They were “subjected to racism and ridicule” during their incarceration after asking for kosher meals and wearing their tefillin, their barrister said.

Gutweith, of Woodstock Avenue, Golders Green, and Broder, of Golders Rise, Hendon, broke into the shul with a 17-year-old friend in June and searched congregants’ lockers for car keys.

A vehicle was then stolen and sold before being bought back and returned to its owner when Gutweith was challenged by community members and confessed to his brother.

At Monday’s appeal hearing, Minka Braun, defending, said it was to the pair’s “eternal shame that this sort of offence was committed”.

Ms Braun said the fact that “no religious artefacts were disturbed” and the “sanctity of the synagogue was not impugned” meant the sentences handed down were too harsh.

She said the teenagers’ worlds had “changed quite dramatically” since they were jailed and described the “sorry saga” as “a tragedy for them and their families.”

Judge Peter Ader interrupted and said: “They should feel ashamed that they have let their community down, but they should have felt that when they broke into the synagogue. That’s the tragedy. It’s appalling.”

Ms Braun said the pair had been the first people to order kosher meals at Feltham for seven years and had been “bullied” by fellow inmates who thought the meals were part of a “VIP package. They are terrified by how different they look to the other offenders. They do not leave their cells. They have not engaged in recreation or exercise. They have reconnected with their faith,” she said.

Broder and Gutweith had been victims of “shocking racism” after using their tefillin, said Ms Braun. She told the court that on one occasion, inmates shouted “Heil Hitler” while Gutweith was making a telephone call to his brother.

Both teenagers wept in the dock as Ms Braun told the court how the consequences of their actions had been “catastrophic” for their future and could hamper their marriage prospects.

She said: “Their entire community is outraged by their actions. This is not a small event in the community these men come from. The community is shocked. ”

Judge Ader said: “It’s very much a matter of shame to them and the community that they committed this offence, against their own community so to speak.”

But he agreed that the pair’s early guilty pleas meant their sentences should be revised. He re-sentenced them to 12 weeks in a young offenders’ institute, suspended for 12 months.

Both teenagers must also do 150 hours of unpaid work and each will be electronically tagged. They must observe overnight curfews daily for 30 days, from 9pm to 7am.

Last updated: 10:37am, October 26 2012