A BURGER van owner has been prosecuted for refusing to serve a sausage sandwich to a customer who argued against his anti-Islamic views.

Retired merchant seaman Jim Gardiner, 73, began chatting to landscape gardener Piers Palmer, 46, at the Ship’s Galley burger van he runs near the M6.

Mr Palmer had ordered a sausage sandwich when the conversation turned to Mr Gardiner’s views on “Muslims and Pakistanis.”

When Mr Gardiner, originally from Craghead, near Stanley, in County Durham produced some laminated anti-Islamic literature from beneath his sauce bottles, Mr Palmer refused to read it.

At that point the angry burger vendor refused to make his sausage sandwich and bluntly told his customer to “do one.”

A furious Mr Palmer reported him to the police for “hate speech” and Mr Gardiner found himself before a court for the first time in his life.

At Carlisle Magistrates’ Court, Gardiner, now of White Ox Way, Penrith, denied a racially aggravated public order offence on January 24, but was convicted after a two-hour trial.

The court heard how Mr Palmer arrived at the defendant’s van on the Gilwilly Industrial Estate, Penrith, on the way to take a speed awareness course and the defendant said such courses were a waste of time.

Mr Palmer told the court: “He said it was the Muslims and Pakistanis in Manchester and London who were the real problem, and not people like us.

“I was completely gobsmacked because I’d only asked for a sausage sandwich. I didn’t know how we’d got on to Muslims and Pakistanis.”

He said Gardiner spoke about Muslim “no-go” zones in Manchester and he had challenged this, saying it was an urban myth.

“I didn’t want to talk about it – I just wanted to eat my lunch,” said Mr Palmer.

He described how the pensioner lifted some sauce bottles and handed him some laminated sheets of paper, saying: “Read this if you want to educate yourself.”

When Mr Palmer refused, Gardiner told him: “Then you’re in the wrong place if you want food from me. Do one!”

The court heard that in his police interview, Gardiner told officers:” Muslims are taking over and that they hate Christians.”

Asked what he would do if a Muslim came to his burger van, he replied: “I’d give them a bacon butty and laugh.”

Asked if he had strong views about Muslims, he replied: “I have strong views about Islam.”

Gardiner was fined £127 and ordered to pay costs and compensation of £700.