A man who filmed a cardboard model of Grenfell Tower burning on a bonfire said it had been a “stupid moment” and he had “no idea” why he took the footage and shared it on WhatsApp, a court has heard.
Paul Bussetti is accused of sending a “grossly offensive” video on WhatsApp and causing footage of a “menacing character” to be uploaded on YouTube.
The 46-year-old, from South Norwood, south-east London, wearing a grey suit and an open-necked white shirt, sat in the dock as the footage he filmed was played to Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Laughter could be heard on the video as the model was placed on the bonfire and set alight on November 3 last year.
Opening the trial, prosecutor Philip Stott said Bussetti had been attending a friend’s bonfire and that approximately 30 people had been there.
Various people had brought guys or effigies, he said, including someone other than the defendant who brought a model tower block with Grenfell Tower written on it.
Mr Stott said it had characters on it, “some inside, some hanging off it as though they were falling”.
He added: “Some of these appeared to be black or brown.”
A comment can be heard on the video referring to a “ninja”, which Mr Stott said the prosecution believes referred to a figure on the tower which was all in black and wearing a niqab.
The footage was branded “revolting” by the aunt of 12-year-old Jessica Urbano Ramirez, who died in the blaze.
In a statement read to the court, Sandra Ruiz said: “The video made a mockery of her death. To see people making a mockery of that is vile.”
She said the footage was likely to have “triggered memories of the fire (for bereaved and survivors) and set them back in their recovery”.
The defendant voluntarily attended Croydon police station two days after the bonfire, by which time footage of the incident had been widely shared online and featured on the news.
The court heard that Bussetti told police he had “no idea” why he had filmed the incident and sent it to two WhatsApp groups, which had a total of around 20 members.
In interview comments to officers which were read to the court, he added: “One of those stupid moments.”
He said: “It was just sick. There was no purpose. It was just a horrible video.”
Bussetti said he had not intended the video to go viral and that it did not support any agenda.
He said: “Not going to blame it on the drink, I don’t know why I done it but I didn’t think they would broadcast it.
“It was just stupidness really, everyone had a drink but, yeah, it was just complete stupidness.”
Asked how he felt after seeing it, he said “sick, not good, terrible”.
By the time he went to the police, Bussetti had deleted the video from his phone, but it could be seen on another group member’s phone that he had sent it to the groups.
The blaze at the block of flats in west London on June 14 2017 killed 72 people.
While Bussetti does not dispute filming the footage and sharing it to the two WhatsApp groups, it is disputed by his legal team that it was “grossly offensive” to send it to the private groups.
His lawyer Mark Summers QC has also argued that he did not intend for it to end up on YouTube, where it was uploaded by someone else.
Bussetti, of Sundial Avenue, denies the two charges against him.
Report slams government for not doing enough to prevent another Grenfell Tower tragedy click here