Man broke into Blackpool synagogue planning to ‘blow up’ building

A man who broke into a Blackpool synagogue with a lump of concrete told police he wanted to ‘blow up’ the holy building.

Andrew Prendergast, 47, smashed a window and a lock to get into the Jewish place of worship on Raikes Parade, Blackpool Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday.

He left bloodstains throughout the building and damaged the alarm system.

When asked by police why he targeted the synagogue, he said: “I wanted to blow them up… synagogue… blow it up. I am proud to be English and don’t want the Jews here.”

Magistrates heard how police were alerted to the burglary at the Blackpool Reform Synagogue by a woman who had seen Prendergast using a piece of concrete to open the front door.

Pam Smith, prosecuting, said that officers followed a trail of bloodstains, caused by an injury on Prendergast’s hand, around the prayer area, toilets and offices.

She said: “Eventually they found him hiding behind the altar. He was verbally resistant when officers tried to arrest him. He swore and kicked out and threatened to kick the officer.”

“When he was taken to the police station officers had to put a spit hood on him.”

Prendergast, unemployed, of Raikes Parade, indicated a guilty plea to charges of burglary in a building other than a dwelling with intent to steal, and racially or religiously aggravated damage.

Robert Castle, defending, said: “He apologises and does not seek to avoid responsibility for what he did.

“Nothing I can say will make what happened any better, however, there was no violence towards anyone.There was no planning . It was impulsive and chaotic.”

Presiding magistrate Simon Bridge told Prendergast, who lives just a few yards from the synagogue: “To target a synagogue – a place of worship – shows the scourge of anti-Semitism was obviously there. You have two previous convictions for racially aggravated offences.”

He sent Prendergast to be sentenced by a judge at Preston Crown Court on December 18.

He was remanded in custody in the meantime.

The door of the synagogue had to be boarded up following the anti-Semitic attack.

One woman who lives on Raikes Parade, who did not want to be named, said: “The synagogue is well-used and the driveway is always packed with cars. I saw them at the weekend and I didn’t notice anything wrong with the door then.

“On Monday, the police were here after I dropped the kids off at school. There was an unmarked car and I suspected it was CID because they weren’t in uniform, and three or four police cars. They were there until the afternoon.

“We have lived here for years and we’ve never seen any issues with the synagogue, but there are some houses on this street and around here that aren’t very nice.

“There are some flats that police are often in and out of.”

PC Ian Ashton, community cohesion and hate crime officer, said; “In Lancashire we have quite a small Jewish community based mostly in Lytham, St Annes and Blackpool. I have links with these communities and we don’t generally see a lot of hate crime towards them, but it does go on. We are seeing an increase in hate crime, but that may be because they have people like ourselves that they have the confidence and trust in to report it to. “We treat hate crime very seriously and we look to investigate all hate crimes reported to us, and look for positive outcomes within the victims wishes.”

Lytham St Annes Express

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