A bricklayer who sent a ‘racist’ greetings card to a mixed race family at Christmas walked from court with a community order.

The card was sent to the Read family on Christmas Eve, had a large picture of a monkey on the front together with the word ‘selfie’ in red lettering. Inside the card was the chilling message ‘BE OFF WITH U’ made up of letters cut from newsprint.

Bryan Olliver, 48, was found guilty last month of sending the card and, in separate incidents, spitting at recipient Michael Read and the man’s mother Angela.

In a victim personal statement read to Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, Mr Read said: “This has ripped through the family.”

He added: “The impact on the children was and still is devastating, They cannot comprehend or rationalise this.”

The magistrates sentenced Olliver to an 18 month community order with 120 hours of unpaid work and up to 32 rehabilitation activity requirement days. A restraining order bans him from contacting his victims for a year and a half and he must pay £870 in costs and surcharge.

Chairman of the bench Deborah Backhaus said they would not be ordering compensation: “A line needs to be drawn. The restraining order puts a very clear gap – a barrier – between you.”

The greetings card sent to the Read family by Bryan Olliver Picture: SUBMITTED

The greetings card sent to the Read family by Bryan Olliver Picture: SUBMITTED

The greetings card sent to the Read family by Bryan Olliver Picture: SUBMITTED

The greetings card sent to the Read family by Bryan Olliver Picture: SUBMITTED

During the trial, the justices heard that Mr Read’s partner, who is of Jamaican heritage, was ‘devastated’ when the family received the card in late 2019.

Enquiries with the firm, Red Frog Design, that sold the card from its eBay store on December 10, 2019. It was bought using Olliver’s PayPal account and sent to his home in Woodcote, Oxfordshire.

He denied being the one to send the card to former workmate Michael Read, suggesting that a friend of his 15-year-old son whom he alleged bore a grudge against Mr Read could have ordered the card.

Four months’ later, on April 26, 2020, it was alleged Mr Read was cycling in Woodcote when Olliver leant out the passenger window of a car and spat at him. The spittle landed on the victim’s arm and trousers. He told the magistrates he was not asked by the police to bag the trousers for forensic analysis.

On May 15, 2020, Mr Read’s mother, Angela, said she was walking her dog in the village when she became aware of Olliver driving past in a grey van. He spat, although did not strike her. She said she shouted ‘you f***ing b******’ at the van, which was heard by a friend to whom she was speaking on the phone at the time.

Mitigating, India Ferris said there were elements of the offending her client, who had no previous convictions, still did not accept, but added he ‘must accept he has been convicted and does show a level of remorse’. He was the sole carer for his teenage son, who had mental health difficulties.

Character references spoke of Olliver as having a ‘heart of gold’. Retired surveyor Rodney Warner said the defendant had rescued his daughter, then aged 12, when a man tried to abduct her outside a shop. Olliver was ‘quick to confront’ the would-be kidnapper, who sped off.

Olliver, of Bensgrove Close, Woodcote, was found guilty of sending malicious communications, assault by beating and common assault. The magistrates last month did not find that the offences racially-aggravated.

Bryan Olliver outside Oxford Magistrates Court

Bryan Olliver outside Oxford Magistrates' Court

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