Far-right extremist Simon Sheppard had previously denied the Holocaust happened
A notorious far-right extremist who made sick jokes about Jews being exterminated during the “Holohoax” set himself up as an eccentric “mad scientist” in a cynical bid to entice girls into having sex for a so-called “sexperiment”.
Simon Sheppard pretended to be a psychologist when he approached girls in Bridlington and gave them a card inviting them to take part in the bizarre bogus sexual experiment. The 65-year-old, who has strong links to Hull, has now been jailed for three years and nine months.
Sheppard, of Promenade, Bridlington, had been convicted by a jury on February 18 after a trial at Hull Crown Court of eight offences involving attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and inciting the sexual exploitation of children in Bridlington.
Recorder Tahir Khan KC told a sentencing hearing at Bradford Crown Court that a 21-year-old woman went with a friend to Bridlington on July 17 last year. Sheppard approached them, made conversation and asked them how they were and if they wanted to go on an adventure.
“You were claiming to be a scientist who had degrees and was conducting an experiment,” said Recorder Khan. “You were saying you were accredited.”
They declined the offer of going for a walk and having a drink. “He was holding himself out to be a psychologist,” added Recorder Khan.
Three weeks later, on August 12 last year, two 15-year-old twin girls were at Bridlington pier when Sheppard approached them and handed them a card and encouraged them to go with him. “The girls were confused and thought that the invitation that you were extending was creepy and they began to leave,” said Recorder Khan. “You got up and started to follow them. They ran and later told their mother what had happened.”
On August 21 last year, two girls were at the fairground at Bridlington pier when Sheppard – “wearing a suit” – handed one of them a card, which she took. “You disappeared quickly from the direction you had come,” said Recorder Khan. “You were encouraging these young girls to participate in a so-called experiment but they had the good sense not to.”
On August 31 last year, Sheppard approached two 14-year-old girls who were sitting on a wall eating ice creams and “came very close to them” before handing them cards. He told them: “Just read it.” The invitation was for them to have sex for £150. The police became involved and investigated Sheppard’s activities.
“You persisted in claiming that you were a psychology expert and you weren’t doing anything wrong,” said Recorder Khan. “The police found no evidence that you were, or are, a psychologist, nor could they find any scientific publication connected to you on a website. You were passing yourself off as a scientist.
“You passed yourself off as a scientist and approached girls in the hope that they would participate in penetrative sexual activity in exchange for money. You blamed the victims for what happened.”
Gareth Henderson-Moore, mitigating, said that there was no evidence that Sheppard had a specific interest in children and he has no previous convictions for sexual offences. “There were no images recovered from any device,” said Mr Henderson-Moore.
“There have been no previous markers of any kind to indicate concerns about children and he says that he does not have any interest in children. He has been rather broad in the people that he has targeted in this enterprise and there are statements from adults also who were targeted in the same way.
“The offending has arisen as a result of his wilful disregard for the age of the persons he approached rather than a particular targeted interest in minors.”
The offences were very unpleasant. Sheppard had vulnerabilities and had a marginalised childhood and adolescence. “He considers himself to something of a mad scientist and it is perhaps that which has led him into trouble on more than one occasion,” said Mr Henderson-Moore.
“He has spent a considerable amount of time on remand. He was convicted in February and has waited in excess of nine months to know his fate. That has been nine months of anxiety. He continues to be vulnerable in a custodial environment and reports that he has difficulties with other prisoners.”
In addition to his jail sentence, Sheppard was given an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and must register as a sex offender for life.
History of racism and Holocaust denial
Sheppard had been jailed for nine months at York Crown Court in June 2018 after being convicted by a jury of using racially aggravated words to a Sky engineer. He had “barracked” the man while he was working on a satellite dish at a neighbour’s flat in June 2017.
Sheppard, then living in Selby, was also given a five-year criminal behaviour order. He had told the court that he was not happy that a black man had been given a flat in his block of flats and denied intending the neighbour to overhear racist abuse. It had been claimed that Sheppard regularly used a racist word when he saw the neighbour.
In 2008, Sheppard claimed asylum in the United States under freedom of speech laws after failing to turn up at court towards the end of a seven-week trial at Leeds Crown Court, where he was accused of publishing racially aggravated material. He was convicted in his absence of a series of charges relating to possessing, publishing and distributing racially inflammatory material.
He failed in his asylum application and was deported back to this country after being detained at a Los Angeles airport. He was later jailed for four years and 10 months but the sentence was eventually cut by a year after an appeal.
The material was anti-Semitic and racist, with what police described as “despicable references to the Holocaust”. Police said at the time: “You have to remember that there are people in our community who lived through the Holocaust. They don’t deserve to have their experiences treated in this way.”
Sheppard claimed that he was not breaking the law because he used an internet server that was based in the United States, but a judge ruled that the prosecution could go ahead. Sheppard claimed that he was being persecuted because of his right-wing views.
The police investigation began after a complaint in 2004 about a leaflet called “Tales of the Holohoax”, which had been pushed through the door of a synagogue in Blackpool. It was traced back to a post office box in Hull registered to Sheppard. One leaflet found by police suggested that the Auschwitz concentration camp was a holiday camp provided by the Nazis and that Jews from all over Europe went there to enjoy a free holiday.
In 2000, a trial at Hull Crown Court was told that Sheppard, then aged 43 and living in Westbourne Avenue, west Hull, had claimed that there was “nothing wrong with being racist”. He had been found with election leaflets parodying the deaths of the Jews in the Holocaust.
The police were called in after complaints from members of the public. He declined to offer pleas and not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf.
Sheppard and a youth delivered the two-sided leaflets to homes in the Avenues area of Hull ahead of the European elections. There was reference to the “country being spoiled by millions of immigrants from the Third World” and he suggested that white people, black people, Asian people and Jewish people should be segregated by “selective breeding”.
Sheppard had been found with 153 leaflets. The youth had another 248. The prosecution told the court: “He told the police there was nothing wrong with being racist and he was campaigning on behalf of the British National Party.”
He was convicted by the jury of publishing and possessing threatening, abusive or insulting leaflets.