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Kevin Crehan (left) and Mark Bennett were part of a group that targeted the mosque in January

Kevin Crehan (left) and Mark Bennett were part of a group that targeted the mosque in January



Two men have been jailed and two women have been given suspended sentences after rashers of bacon were tied to door handles at a Bristol mosque.

During the incident on 17 January, the group shouted racial abuse at a member of the mosque and tied a St George’s flag to the fence of the Jamia Mosque.

Kevin Crehan, 34, of Knowle, was jailed for 12 months and Mark Bennett, 48, of Patchway, for nine months.

Both had admitted religiously aggravated public order offences.

At the Bristol Crown Court hearing, 46-year-old Alison Bennett – the wife of Mark Bennett – was given a six-month sentence, suspended for two years, while Angelina Swales, 31, from Brislington, was handed a four-month sentence, suspended for two years.

‘Worship without fear’

The two women also admitted religiously aggravated public order offences in relation to the targeting of the Totterdown mosque.

All four were given a restraining order preventing them from going within 100m of a mosque anywhere in England or Wales for the next 10 years.

Insp Nigel Colston of Avon and Somerset Police paid tribute to the way the community responded to what happened.

He said: “The way local people came together with overwhelming support for the mosque made me proud to be associated with Bristol.

“There can never be any excuse for hate crime in any shape or form and this criminality will not be tolerated.

“All of our communities have the right to live and worship peacefully without fear of being targeted for their race or religion.”
BBC News

ONE OF the men who admits a racially aggravated attack on Totterdown’s mosque has claimed in court that he didn’t know that bacon was offensive to Muslims.

Mark Bennett, 48, claimed he was not a racist and did not take bacon to the mosque in Green Street on January 17, 2016, intending to cause offence.

Instead, he said, he was trying to raise awareness about the plight of British armed forces veterans and homeless people who he felt deserved more attention.

Bennett, of Spruce Way, Patchway, his wife Alison Bennett, 46, Kevin Crehan, 34, of Springleaze, Knowle, and Angelina Margaret Swales, 31, of West Town Avenue, Brislington, have all pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence at the Jamia mosque.

Bristol crown court was told on June 17 that during the incident racial abuse was shouted at a Muslim man attending the mosque. Raw bacon was thrown and left hanging from the mosque’s railings and an English flag, the cross of St George, was left on the steps with the legend “No mosques, no refugees”, the prosecution said.

But the two men involved denied being racists, said there was no bacon thrown, and they did not hear any racial abuse. They claimed their protest was peaceful. Crehan said it was an attempt to get Muslims to “integrate”. “I grew up in Totterdown and I have got many, many Muslim friends,” he said.

Bennett drew a parallel with charitable activities.

“In my own time I go to the city centre and take coffee and bacon sandwiches to people who live on the streets,” he said.

Judge Julian Lambert asked Bennett if he expected people at the mosque to eat his bacon sandwiches and be grateful for them.

“Possibly,” Bennett replied. The court had heard that Bennett and his wife had bought the bacon and some bread in a £1 shop in Broadmead the same morning. The barrister for the prosecution, Ian Fenney, asked Bennett: “Did you expect people to eat raw bacon?”

“No,” said Bennett. “Where was the bacon going to be cooked?” asked Mr Fenney.

“It possibly could have been cooked in the mosque. I wouldn’t know, would I?” said Bennett.

He added: “I didn’t know that it was offensive to take bacon to the mosque. If I had known I wouldn’t have taken it. Mr Fenney responded: “I suggest you knew exactly how much offence would be caused by taking raw bacon and that’s why you did it. Why was bacon found on the door handles of the mosque? Because any Muslim entering the mosque would have to touch it.”

Bennett told the court he didn’t know the meaning of the word “jihad”.

The court was also told that in 2008 Crehan racially abused an Asian police officer at Broadbury Road police station, after he was arrested at his home during a domestic disturbance. Crehan said he was high on alcohol and drugs at the time but had since given both up.

Bennett was presented with several Facebook pages, posted in April 2016, in the name Marc Bennet, which contained offensive statements about Muslims and references to a recent attack on a mosque.

Bennett said the pages were not his and suggested they had been created to frame him by left-wing activists. He agreed that he had previously had another Facebook page in the name Mark English.

The four will be sentenced at another hearing on July 22, when the two women will be cross-examined.

The attack on January 17 resulted in an outpouring of support for the Jamia mosque, the oldest in Bristol. Hundreds of people attended an open afternoon the following weekend, and hundreds more pledged their support for the mosque being at the heart of the Totterdown community.

South Bristol Voice

A convicted football hooligan has admitted his involvement in an attack where a bacon sandwich was thrown at a Bristol mosque.

Kevin Crehan, 34, of Stockwood Crescent, Knowle, was charged with a racially aggravated public order offence following the incident at Jamia Mosque in Green Street, Totterdown, last month.

In a five minute hearing at Bristol Crown Court he pleaded guilty to the charge, accepting a religiously aggravated offence to cause Nasir Ahmed harassment, alarm or distress.

Judge Martin Picton adjourned his case, pending a probation report, until March 24.

He bailed Crehan on condition he co-operates with the probation service.

Crehan’s bail also prevents him from going on the pavement outside, or within the boundaries of, any mosque in England and Wales.

The judge told him: “You have to understand this case carries custody.”.

On Sunday, January 17, a flag was said to be hung on a fence outside the mosque stating: “No mosque wanted here” and “Bristol United Patriots”.

Elderly worshippers attending the mosque were abused and bacon was thrown.

Self-styled anti-Muslim group, Bristol United Patriots, operate across the city but have publicly denied having anything to do with the attack.

It is not Crehan’s first brush with the law, which has included assaulting a police officer.

In 2010 he was sentenced to seven months in prison for breaching a three year football banning order.

At the time Bristol Crown Court heard the then 28-year-old was caught with a sawn-off pool cue down his trousers.

Crehan admitted four breaches which included failing to report to a police station during the World Cup and being inside an exclusion zone before a Bristol City versus Milwall match.

The court heard he had been banned from being within a mile of Bristol City’s Ashton Gate ground.

Crehan pleaded guilty to having an offensive weapon and stealing a DVD.

Regarding the mosque attack Alison Bennett, 46, Mark Bennett, 48, both of Spruce Way, Patchway and Angelina Swailes, 31, of West Town Avenue, Brislington have all been charged with a racially aggravated public order offence.

The Bennetts and Swailes have been released on bail with a condition not to enter or go within 100 metres of any mosque.

They are due to appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on February 25.

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