When Faryad Hussain caught a young man stealing wine from his Dalry newsagents while high on drugs, he decided to give the culprit a second chance and not press charges.
But because the incident had already been reported to police, a prolonged campaign of “terrifying” physical and verbal abuse from the youngster and his father ensued as a result.
The young man threatened to slit the throats of Mr Hussain’s wife and their 13-year-old son – and his father even smeared faeces on the shop shutters on two separate occasions.
They put glue in the locks of the shutters every couple of days and repeatedly shouted abusive racist remarks.
In one shocking incident, he was attacked on the street by the shoplifter and two friends – and when a passerby came across the scene, he joined in, attacking him with his walking stick.
In other occasions, the younger criminal would taunt the family by insinuating that he would slit their throats, by moving his hand across his own throat. And a wheelie bin was pushed up against the back of the shop on Caledonian Crescent and set alight.
The stress and fear was so intense that Mr Hussain, 40, suffered a heart attack and ended up in hospital for a week.
Mr Hussain’s wife Shamim was too terrified to be in the shop by herself and the couple feared for the safety of their three young children.
Mr Hussain had been running the shop for 15 years, but he never experienced anything like this before.
Speaking about the night he was attacked outside his shop, where he was pushed to the ground and kicked in the head and stomach, he said: “I was in the shop and he was shouting and swearing asking me to come outside the shop. I didn’t want to fight. But then he attacked me. There were I think five people involved. There was a man just walking by with a walking stick and he started joining in. He started hitting me with his walking stick.”
The man’s father was caught on CCTV twice over the space of three days, smearing faeces on the locks and shutters.
“It’s so disgusting, it’s totally revolting,” said Mrs Hussain, 39. “I couldn’t stay in the shop by myself, I was too scared. There was so much stress it was just unbelievable. My husband’s health started to go down, his blood pressure was high because of the stress, he suffered a minor heart attack. It was just terrible.”
When Mr Hussain returned to work after a week in hospital, police issued him with a body camera to help record evidence if anything else happened. The camera helped to reassure Mr Hussain and he felt that it prevented further incidents from happening.
He and his family said they are very grateful to the police for their support throughout the ordeal, which lasted several months over the summer of 2013.
The offending family – who lived just across the street from the shop – was evicted from the flat by housing association Dunedin Canmore.
The men, who were aged 63 and 25, were arrested and charged over the campaign of hate crime. The older man was fined, while his son – who was charged with a variety of other crimes – was jailed for 18 months.
Mr Hussain said: “I used to think I didn’t want to waste court time or police time. After his stealing we gave him a chance. He stole in front of us and I gave him a warning – I thought maybe he would take a lesson.”
Mr Hussain said it was particularly difficult to handle the abuse, given that he had given the man a chance to change his ways. And although he used to “not want to make a fuss”, he is now keen to encourage any hate crime victims to come forward.
“The police were so good, they used to come into the shop just to see if we were okay. We are grateful,” he said.
His wife agreed, adding: “We would say to anyone, involve the police no matter what. The police do take these incidents seriously. Don’t just ignore it.”
Mr and Mrs Hussain were also given the contact for an Asian association to provide an additional person to turn to.
The couple, who live in Sighthill, no longer run the shop in Dalry as they said the business was not faring well against the competition of larger supermarkets. Mr Hussain now works as a shop assistant in Broomhall.
Inspector Tom Galbraith, of Police Scotland’s Prevention, Intervention and Partnership unit, described Mr Hussain’s ordeal as a “horrific set of circumstances”.
And he revealed that of the 455 hate crimes which were committed in the Capital between April and July this year, the vast majority were racially-motivated.
He and his team, which is based in the West End of the Capital, monitor hate crime on a daily basis.
Insp Galbraith said: “In Mr Hussain’s case we offered crime prevention advice and also issued him with a body camera so we had every opportunity possible evidentially so we could catch those responsible.
“Not only do we want to encourage victims of hate crime to report it but there’s a huge onus on bystanders to report it as well. It’s important that we use everything we can to tackle hate crime. Sometimes when hate crime occurs the victim is on their own, so we need evidence to corroborate.
“The preventative element is really to make sure that everything from CCTV to the layout of the shops is used. When we are encouraging victims to come forward, we want them to have confidence in a system that goes from start to finish.”
As part of Police Scotland’s ongoing hate crime awareness campaign, a strong focus is being put on education of young people.
Insp Galbraith added: “The emphasis on schools is really important, along with generic bullying. We use tools such as showing real footage of real incidents which really brings it home to them.”
He said it was vital that all communities work together to stamp out hate crime on any minority groups.
To tackle the issue, more than 30 remote reporting sites have now been set up at community centres and faith establishments to help encourage victims to come forward.
Another high-profile example of hate crime was the shocking attack on Chinese takeaway owner Jie Yu in West Pilton last year.
Father-of-three Mr Yu suffered a near-fatal stab wound after pursuing a group of young men who had stolen his car from outside his premises.
James Hogg and Gary Reid are currently serving eight and seven-year sentences respectively for the attack.
Reid – whose older brother John Reid, was jailed in 2010 for the high-profile killing of Chinese takeaway driver Simon San in Lochend – pleaded guilty to attempted murder with racial aggravation.
Mr Yu had brutal wounds in his neck, chest and stomach but has since made a good recovery.
Challenging negative stereotypes
Police Scotland is now in the third week of a month-long hate crime campaign.
Incidents are historically under-reported and can range from violent physical attacks to verbal abuse, criminal damage or online bullying.
Each week of the campaign focuses on a different minority group – and from today, those targeted because of their race come under the spotlight.
Officers hope that the campaign will lead to a spike in reports and an increased awareness about hate crime.
More than 30 third-party reporting sites have been set up across the city to give victims an alternative way to report crimes if they feel uncomfortable going directly to police.
These range from faith centres to charities and community centres, and now also include charity Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC).
Dee Matthew, the organisation’s education co-ordinator, delivers anti-racism educational workshops across Scotland.
She said the charity was keen to challenge negative stereotypes about immigration, asylum seekers and refugees or Islamophobic opinions.
“Not challenging these myths can lead to prejudiced thought and discriminatory action towards minority ethnic communities and manifest into hate crime,” said Mrs Matthew.
“We know that all hate crime is massively under-reported and victims of racist attacks feel intimidated to step forward and report these instances or they feel frustration that nothing will be done.
“SRTRC would encourage anyone who has been a victim of racist or religiously motivated hate crime to seek the support they need and report in a way they feel comfortable.
“If hate crimes are not reported then the scale and magnitude of the problem will remain hidden. No-one is born racist,
prejudice is learned from early on in the life cycle.”
Victims can also use the hate crime reporting form on the Police Scotland website, or victims can take the traditional route of dialling 101.
People are invited to get involved in the campaign by following Police Scotland on Twitter and Facebook, using #HateCrime and #ReportIt.