Britain First fan who drove van at London restaurant owner walks free

Haroon Siddique
Marek Zakrocki pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, beating his wife, and drink-driving. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

A Britain First supporter who drove at a curry restaurant owner after saying “I’m going to kill a Muslim” is to walk free after serving his prison sentence while on remand.

The Old Bailey heard that Marek Zakrocki, 48, also gave a Nazi salute and shouted “white power” before driving his van at Kamal Ahmed outside Spicy Night restaurant in Harrow, north-west London, on 23 June last year – the first anniversary of the Brexit vote.

He told a police officer while in his van: “I’m going to kill a Muslim. I’m doing it for Britain. This is how I’m going to help the country. You people cannot do anything.”

The Polish-born window-fitter mounted the pavement twice, trying to pin Ahmed against the front of the restaurant window – which smashed – with his vehicle, the court heard.

On Friday, Zakrocki was sentenced to 33 weeks in jail by Judge Anthony Leonard QC after pleading guilty last month to dangerous driving and beating his wife. On Friday, he also admitted drink-driving. He will be released due to time spent on remand.

He was originally also accused of attempted murder and three racially aggravated offences but those charges were not pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service. Further charges of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm and having a knife in a public place were ordered to lie on file.

When armed officers arrested Zakrocki, they found a Nazi coin in his pocket and a number of flyers for the far-right group Britain First and newspapers at his home in Harrow.

The court heard he had been drinking heavily that day and had grabbed his wife’s arm and threatened to kill people and then himself. Before driving at Ahmed he had pushed an unknown Asian man and shouted “white power, white power”.

Denis Barry, prosecuting, said: “It’s plain that his conduct is very likely to have been motivated by his views about our diverse society.”

Barry said Zakrocki had been fixated by Muslims and had made donations to Britain First in the past. The far-right group gained international notoriety when it was retweeted by Donald Trump. Paul Golding, 35, and Jayda Fransen, 31, its leaders. have been charged by police in Northern Ireland in connection with alleged hate speeches they made in Belfast. Both deny the charges.

Zakrocki was sentenced to 32 weeks’ imprisonment for dangerous driving, one week for battery against his wife and six weeks for drink driving, with the latter term to run concurrently. He was also disqualified from driving for three years.

Leonard told Zakrocki, who appeared via video link from Wormwood Scrubs prison that he had concluded that he was trying to cause physical harm when he mounted the pavement in his van but that his behaviour was driven largely by his excessive alcohol consumption.

The judge said: “These events are the result of you having drunk up to two bottles of wine, which you knew would affect you seriously because of your chronic alcoholism.”

He revealed that Zakrocki had a previous conviction for assaulting a police officer, also while drunk, in 2011.

Leonard said the offences were committed at a time of “heightened tensions” due to the van attack on Muslims outside Finsbury Park mosque in north London. The judge said he had taken into account Britain First literature found at Zakrocki’s home but that he was not a member of any far-right organisation.

DC Georgina Acuna, the case officer, said: “I was expecting a slightly longer custodial sentence.”

An attempt by Kazrocki’s wife to prevent reporting of the proceedings was rejected as groundless by the judge.

Britain First, which has an estimated 1,000 supporters, has an openly anti-Islam, anti-immigration agenda. The group regularly protests against the construction or extension of mosques and wants halal meat banned in Britain. It describes itself as “a patriotic political party and street movement” and “a patriotic resistance and ‘frontline’ for our long suffering people”.