A self-confessed racist rang up his landlord and demanded to be rehomed after finding out an immigrant was moving into a neighbouring property.
Gilbert Robbins moved into a home in Ettrickbridge last year after being informed that no foreigners lived there.
However, after being told there were plans for a Libyan refugee to be moved into a house next to him, the 63-year-old tenant saw red and telephoned Selkirk-based Eildon Housing Association to ask it to find another property for him.
During that conversation, he admitted he was racist and held extreme right-wing views, allegedly saying that all foreigners should be lined up and shot.
The housing assistant at the other end of the line told Robbins that was a “disgusting thing to say” and hung up on him.
However, Robbins followed that curtailed conversation up with two emails regarding his “home move” and “re-housing request” to his female housing officer, originally from Sudan, and both were littered with racist comments.
Following a trial at Selkirk Sheriff Court, Robbins was found guilty of a breach of the 2003 Communications Act by sending emails and telephone messages to three employees of Eildon Housing Association on April 10 containing racist, offensive and abusive material.
Sheriff Kevin Duffy deferred sentence for five months for good behaviour, telling the plant operator he was being given a chance and warning him to avoid sending further such messages.
In the first email, sent to the housing officer of Sudanese origin at 10.41am, Robbins wrote: “Now don’t take this personally.
“I live in Woodend, Ettrickbridge. Before I took this property, I specifically asked if there were any immigrants in the building or in the near vicinity. I was advised no.
“However, I’ve now been told by a neighbour that the empty house across the landing from me has been allocated to a black man.
“On the basis that I’m as extreme right wing and racist as you can get, to the point of actually hating every foreigner in this country, I would like to be considered for a house in a white area as I couldn’t live near these people.
“Call me racist. That’s okay, I am.
“We have a government that’s ethnically cleansing our white, Christian country and I’m anti-that.
“The bottom line is I can’t live in the same building as foreigners, Islamists, blacks or even Eastern Europeans. I hate them all.”
Giving evidence during the trial, the housing officer said she was so upset by the racist sentiments in that email that she left work and went home.
She added that later on the Libyan man was informed of Robbins’ views and declined to take up the tenancy and add himself to the picturesque village’s population of around 100.
A housing manager then telephoned Robbins to tell him that what he had said in the telephone call and email was unacceptable.
That prompted Robbins, originally from the west coast of Scotland, to hit back with another email at 2.45pm the same day to the housing officer saying: “I was shocked and dismayed by the attitude of you re: staff when I requested a move due to a foreigner moving under the same roof as me.
“Unfortunately, I’m not multicultural and have nothing in common with foreigners.
“It’s like getting harpy eagles to live with spider monkeys. It just doesn’t work. Hence my request for a move.
“What does bother me is Eildon staff telling me I’m disgusting for my views and then being told Eildon’s concerned due to my views.
“Whatever happened to free speech?
“Is Eildon taking the stance that if you don’t love immigrants, Islamists, Eastern Europeans etc that, in Eildon’s eyes, you’re a concern?
“If you go back and listen to what I’ve said and look at what I’ve wrote, you will discover that, contrary to my views on immigrants, I didn’t request that Eildon shouldn’t put a black man next to me. I requested a move from the black man, therefore how can you have concerns about me?
“It’s political correctness gone too far.”
His messages were reported by the social landlord to the police and Robbins was interviewed at Hawick police station on April 13, repeating his racist views but adding that he could not remember saying all foreigners should be lined up and shot.
He commented: “If that was on the call, that’s only my views concerning foreigners. I wasn’t wanting to upset anyone. It’s just my views.”
Summing up the crown case, procurator fiscal Graham Fraser said the messages were “wholly offensive” and racially aggravated.
Robbins, acting for himself during the trial, put forward a defence submission under article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, claiming he can say what he likes as long as he is not pressuring someone or threatening them with violence.
Sheriff Duffy, however, said the language used in the telephone calls and message had gone well beyond what was acceptable and found him guilty of the charge.
The sheriff noted that Robbins’ last criminal conviction dated back to 2013 so he deferred sentence until December to see if he can stay out of trouble.
He warned him: “Be very careful what you are saying in emails and communications.”