TWO Americans studying at a Scottish university who spent 40 hours in custody after being wrongly accused of chanting racist slogans were found not guilty yesterday after a trial that lasted only 20 minutes.
Walker and Weston Romens, 20, who are identical twins, were alleged to have chanted “abusive comments of a racial nature” on a late train between Glasgow’s Queen Street station and Stirling on 31 January.
But it emerged they had innocently sat with a group of strangers who had been discussing Samuel L Jackson movies – especially the 2012 Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained – which has been criticised for its liberal use of the n-word.
Giving evidence at Stirling Sheriff Court, call centre worker Rachel Graham, 26, said she had pointed the pair out to police on the platform when they got off at Stirling station because she heard them say they were on their way to Stirling University.
Miss Graham said she was returning to Stirling on the train after celebrating her birthday in Glasgow with her partner.
She said a group of about ten people behind her were shouting and then “it got more racist”.
She said: “I heard n****r, n****r, n****r, out, out, out.”
Miss Graham said she also heard somebody saying: “I ain’t no n****r, son.”
She said she had turned and spoken to Weston Romens and told him the language “was not acceptable”. She added: “He said, ‘I didn’t think I was racist’. He seemed quite offended.”
Miss Graham, a graduate of the university, said the group were “quite relaxed, laughing and joking” but she decided to take action. She said: “If they got the university a bad press I’d have been quite annoyed.”
Stephen Maguire, defending, asked: “Are you aware of the film Django Unchained?” Miss Graham said she was, and agreed with Mr Maguire that “the word n****r features quite a lot” in the movie. After Miss Graham told Sheriff William Gilchrist that she could not identify either of the twins as having joined in the chant, or used the word n****r, depute fiscal Lindsey Brooks, prosecuting, said she would call no further witnesses.
Sheriff Gilchrist told the twins: “You’re found not guilty – you can go.”
The twins, both journalism students from Minnesota, currently at Stirling University on a student exchange from the University of North Dakota, had denied the single charge against them.
After the case, Weston Romens said: “It was insane. We weren’t involved at all. There was this big group of people and we sat with them. We couldn’t understand half of what they were saying.
“When we got to Stirling they stayed on the train and we got off, and we got arrested just for being with them.”
A court insider said: “There was video evidence, which they couldn’t get to play properly on the court’s equipment, but anyway, it would have completely exonerated the twins.
“It just shows people in this big group acting out Samuel L Jackson’s lines from Django Unchained and [Samuel L Jackson film] Big Game.”