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Andrew Ryan photo

A Carlisle man who burnt the Koran in the city centre could be facing up to two years in jail.

Andrew Ryan, who claims to be a member of the English Defence League, appeared at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court today.

He pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated harassment and theft – of the Koran from Carlisle Library.

The court heard he had burnt the Koran on January 19 because for the Muslims, the book is their ‘Holiest of Holy.’

He said he had been viewing internet clips of extremist Islamic preachers and protesters earlier in the day then ‘lost it’.

Ryan, 32, of Summerhill, went to the library and booked out a copy of the Koran using a card he had only applied for the day before.

He then went to the monument on English Street and in front of shocked witnesses started shouting abuse about the Muslim faith.

One of them was his former probation officer.

Ryan managed to set fire to the book on his second attempt, after a friend passed him a lighter, then threw it on the ground and walked away.

After arrest he told police that he knew his actions were likely to stir up religious aggravation.

He also spoke of ‘Asian gangs’ and his anger at Islam.

Ryan has a number of previous convictions for public order offences and assault.

Defence solicitor Lauren Heesley said he was protesting against Muslim extremists not Islam as a faith.

She told the court that he did not judge people by their race, religion or sexual orientation.

Ms Heesley claimed that his conviction for racially abusive chanting at a football match had been a misunderstanding.

She said he had been shouting abuse at the referee, as ‘the man in black’, rather than a player.

At this point Ryan started sniggering and his supporters in the public gallery openly laughed.

Ms Heesley said Ryan has a military background which he is proud of, so images of extremist Muslim protesters burning poppies had made him want to take revenge.

The case was adjourned until April 14 for pre-sentencing reports and Ryan was granted bail.

Magistrates did not discuss what punishment they were considering imposing but the offence carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

As he left the courtroom, Ryan punched the air and said ‘no surrender’ to cheers from his supporters.

Cumberland News

A violent car-jacker who tried to slash a man across the neck with car keys has been jailed.

Aaron Muxlow was sentenced to 33 months in prison after carrying out a series of verbal and physical attacks.

Muxlow, 21, appeared at Cambridge Crown Court for sentencing after previously pleading guilty to theft, criminal damage, using threatening or abusive words or behaviour and robbery.

Quentin Newcomb, prosecuting, said Nicholas Birch and Luke Banaszkiewicz were driving on Spril 12 to see friends at Arbury Court in Cambridge.

Mr Banaszkiewicz got out to meet friends and Muxlow, of Cambridge Road, Stretham, Ely, approached the car, grabbed the keys from the ignition and demanded Mr Birch give him all his possessions.

When Mr Birch said he did not have anything to give him, Muxlow hit him several times before Mr Birch fled and his friend returned asking for the keys, the court was told.

Muxlow then slashed at Mr Banaszkiewicz’s neck with the keys, leaving a mark, before driving off in the car.

On May 25, Muxlow verbally abused Neera Saini, co-owner of Derby Stores, Derby Street, when she challenged him over a missing bottle of wine worth £6.

He returned on June 3 and intimidated her husband, Karter Singh, because Mr Singh was following him to check nothing was stolen.

Then on June 10, he attacked a cyclist’s bike, falsely claiming the owner, Jon Clarke, was a “pervert” who had taken wine from his trousers.

When Mr Clarke went into the Mace store, in Green End Street, he heard “banging and scratching noises” and went outside to see his bike wheel buckled and Muxlow walking off.

Mr Clarke later returned to the scene with a police officer and they found Muxlow still there.

He was arrested and placed in a police van by Pc Linas Pekarskas but started hurling racist abuse at the officer, shouting ‘EDL’ .

Mark Shelley, mitigating, said: “When he is sober he is actually quite pleasant. When he drinks and takes drugs he is aggressive and unpleasant.”

Judge Jonathan Haworth said the robbery was the “aggravating feature” and sentenced him to a total of two years and nine months in prison, reduced by the 121 days he has spent in custody.

Cambridge News

A SHOPLIFTER saw the light when he was nabbed with 22 lightbulbs.

Derek Fender was found with the pounds 153 haul of energy-efficient bulbs when stopped by police in Gateshead.

The 38-year-old admitted stealing them from Homebase, Retail World, Team Valley, earlier that day to use in his own flat.

Fender, who has 31 convictions for theft, pleaded guilty to the May 9 theft and was given a 12-month conditional discharge to run alongside a community order he is on.

Defending, Tom Iceton, told Gateshead magistrates that when Fender, of Bensham Crescent, Gateshead, split up with his girlfriend, she wouldn’t let him take anything but his clothing.

His benefit claim was reduced because of his change of address, said Mr Iceton, and he couldn’t afford basics to furnish his flat. But this has now been sorted out.

The Free Library