Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting COUNTY GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
Woman denies witness intimidation
A Muslim woman wearing a full-face veil has gone on trial accused of making efforts to intimidate a mosque security guard.
Rebekah Dawson, 22, and her 32-year-old brother Matthias made attempts to "frighten and intimidate" Daudi Yusuf, a security guard at Finsbury Park Mosque in north London who was a potential witness in proceedings against her husband, Royal Barnes, Blackfriars Crown Court was told.
"You will hear that Rebekah Dawson's husband, a man called Royal Barnes, was involved in an incident with Daudi Yusuf on June 10 2013 at which Rebekah Dawson was present, police were called, and ultimately that man Royal Barnes, Rebekah Dawson's husband, was arrested," Kate Wilkinson, prosecuting, told the jury.
"Rebekah Dawson was upset that her husband was in trouble because of what Daudi Yusuf said to them.
"So on June 23 nearly two weeks later at about quarter to nine in the evening she went back to Finsbury Park mosque to threaten Daudi Yusuf.
"She didn't go alone, she arranged for her brother to go along with her, they arrived at the mosque together and went inside to Daudi Yusuf's office at the front door."
She added: "Rebekah Dawson questioned Daudi Yusuf about what he had told police and called him a liar. At that point Matthias Dawson joined in.
"He said words to Daudi Yusuf that now he knew what Daudi Yusuf looked like he was finished and threatened Daudi Yusuf."
She said at this point, Matthias Dawson, who had his face obscured by a hood, had walked away but Rebekah Dawson had stayed a little longer.
"She continued to say to Daudi Yusuf that she had not yet finished and she would carry on coming back until he explained why he had called the police on her husband.
"Daudi Yusuf was left feeling very threatened and unsafe. He knew that people had seen his face and knew where he worked. Certainly as he walked home alone he felt very vulnerable."
Rebekah Dawson, who is standing trial wearing a full-face veil, and is formerly of Ferme Park Road, Stroud Green, north London, and Matthias Dawson, of Sycamore Court, Silverdale, Sydenham, south east London, both deny a single charge of witness intimidation.
Earlier Judge Peter Murphy warned the jury to put aside any feelings they might have about the way she chose to dress and said it would be "quite wrong" to be prejudiced against anybody because of their expression of religious faith.
He said Rebekah Dawson was "fully entitled" to dress as she chooses.
"I am sure you will have noticed that the defendant Rebekah Dawson is wearing a full face veil - it hides her face apart from a narrow slit for the eyes," he told the jury.
"Let me begin by saying that in this country everyone is entitled to express any religious view they wish or to hold no religious view.
"Also we are entitled to express any religious view we may have in any way that we choose that includes wearing a form of dress which a person may consider to be appropriate."
He added: "I emphasise that Rebekah Dawson is fully entitled to dress in any way she chooses, if you have any feelings about that, put them aside because they have nothing to do with the case."
Judge Murphy was speaking after he upheld a ruling he gave last September that Ms Dawson can stand trial wearing the full face veil but must remove it while giving evidence.
He told the jury that he had ruled that if Rebekah Dawson chooses to give evidence, she must remove her veil.
Judge Murphy added in his remarks to the jury: "It would be quite wrong to be prejudiced against anybody because of their expression of their religious faith. It is very important you understand that."
The trial was adjourned until Friday when it is expected to conclude.