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His killers have been jailed for life with minimum terms totalling 34 years

The family of murdered Andrew Groves made a loving tribute to him on the day his killers were jailed.

Russell Oakey and Michael Dommett both received life terms today (July 26). Oakey, 42 and of Hanham High Street, was convicted by a jury and Dommett, 38 and of Oakhanger Drive, entered a guilty plea part way through a trial.

Bristol Crown Court heard 47-year-old Mr Groves sustained a brutal beating in a house in Oakhanger Drive, Lawrence Weston, which was then set on fire.

 Michael Dommett (left) and Russell Oakey. Both have been jailed for life for murdering Bristol dad Andrew Groves. (Image: Avon and Somerset Constabulary)

Michael Dommett (left) and Russell Oakey. Both have been jailed for life for murdering Bristol dad Andrew Groves. (Image: Avon and Somerset Constabulary)

‘A devoted family man’

As the case concluded Mr Groves’ family said: “The sentence these two men will get will be never enough for us as a family. For we will never see our dear Andrew again.

“Andrew was a kind and loving son, a truly beautiful person, and was loved by so many people.

“He was a hard-working and devoted family man and his sudden death has been devastating to his wife, his son Lewis and daughter Molly.”

The family also thanked the emergency services who first attended the scene, and made desperate attempts to revive Mr Groves.

The statement adds: “We would also like to say thank you to Avon and Somerset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, who had over 70 people working on the investigation.

“Without them and their hard work and professionalism we would not be here today.

“We would also like to say a very special thank you to three amazing people who have given us their support, compassion and help during this very difficult time – DC Hilary Bolland, DC Carol Doxsey and Krissy of Victim Support.

“Once again thank you to you all.”

‘Daddy’s girl’

The court today heard statements from Mr Groves’ family.

Mr Groves’ daughter Molly was 17 when her dad was murdered. She said she was a “daddy’s girl”, her dad was very affectionate and would help his children with their homework.

She said: “Dad was always really proud of me and my brother.”

She remembered going to the cinema with her dad, with his large Coke and nachos, looking happy. When her dad died she felt scared and didn’t know what to do, she said.

She thought Mike Dommett had been her dad’s friend, and she couldn’t understand why anyone would want to hurt him.

She found life after the killing very difficult, she said, but wanted to attend court for the trial to hear what happened and listened to awful things. She described her dad as a family man who was always smiling.

Andrew’s father Barry said Andrew was born at Southmead Hospital and when he saw him for the first time he was the most beautiful baby he had ever seen. He last saw him four days before he was murdered and he was his “usual, cheerful self”.

When Mr Groves was told of a murder inquiry regarding his son he thought: “Why would anyone kill my son? He’s never had an enemy in my life.”

He said he had to identify him at a mortuary and even though he had sustained horrendous injuries he was still his beautiful son.

He said: “That day my life, and that of Andrew’s family and friends, changed for ever.”

Mr Groves said the sadness would live with his family for ever.

The deceased would always do anything for his children, he said, and they missed their loving, generous and hard-working dad.

He said: “I’m devastated I will never see my beautiful son again. I hope those found guilty of his murder get the maximum the court can give.”

Mr Groves son wanted him as best man

Andrew Groves’ son Lewis was 25 when he learned of the death of his dad.

Today the court heard how he went to his dad’s home and found police at the scene. He said his dad was his best friend and they had a very special relationship. He said his dad would have been his best man at his wedding but he never got the chance to ask him. Since the murder he has felt so much negativity, he said.

He said he found it hard to look at motorbikes, knowing how much his dad liked them. He said the intention to set light to his dad was hard to hear

‘We are the ones serving a life sentence’

Louise Groves, Andrew’s former wife, said Andrew was kind, happy and had the biggest heart. She said his life was his family and loved nothing more than family trips and celebrations. He wanted nothing more than his children to be happy, she said.

She said: “No-one deserves the pure evil inflicted on him. No punishment will ever be enough. We are the ones serving a life sentence.”

Police statement – pair ‘concocted a series of lies’

Senior Investigating Officer DI Lorna Dallimore said: “These convictions are the result of a detailed and painstaking investigation by officers and police staff.

“Andrew Groves was subjected to a truly horrific ordeal inside the house in Oakhanger Drive, with a fire deliberately started in an attempt to conceal evidence.

“We were able to prove Michael Dommett, who had taken on the tenancy of this property from his late father, and Russell Oakey were solely responsible for Andrew’s death.

“They concocted a series of lies to distance themselves from the scene of the crime and claimed they’d left Andrew at the property asleep.

“Through a combination of forensic and DNA evidence, analysis of telephone data and ANPR cameras, we were able to expose these lies and prove they were responsible for Andrew’s murder.

“I’d like to thank Andrew’s family for their support of our investigation and I hope these convictions will help them move forward with their lives.”

Bristol Post

An inquest date has been set after Crehan died five months into a year-long jail sentence

A prisoner who was serving time for putting bacon on the door handles of a Bristol mosque died after a drug overdose, it has been revealed.

Kevin ‘Bunny’ Crehan was five-months into his year-long sentence in Horfield Prison when he was discovered dead in his cell.

Emergency services were called to the prison on December 27, 2016 after he was found unresponsive.

Files from the police and a post-mortem report have now been completed after several pre-inquest reviews.

A full inquest will begin on Monday, December 3, and is expected to last more than two weeks.

That means it will be nearly two years before his family finds out how the 35-year-old from Knowle West came by his death.

A post mortem examination heard he had died of a suspected overdose of methadone, a common drug used as a strong painkiller and as a substitute for heroin.

The court was told he had been admitted to hospital while serving his term following a drug overdose.

After he recovered, he was sent back behind bars, but was found dead in his cell shortly after.

A police investigation has now been completed, and they are not treating it as suspicious at this time.

Why was he in prison?

Crehan had been jailed in July 2016 after pleading guilty to an attack on the Jamia mosque in Totterdown in January 2016.

The ‘protest’ saw bacon being placed on door handles, a St George flag tied to the fence and abuse shouted at two elderly people.

Together with three others, the far-right group were charged in court.

Crehan was jailed for a year while Mark Bennett, 48, from Patchway, was sentenced to nine months in prison.

His wife, Alison, 46, was given a six-month suspended sentence for her involvement and Angela Swales, 31, from Brislington, was given a four-month suspended jail term.

The judge who jailed Crehan said he had taken into account the 35-year-old’s history of convictions, including football-related violence.

The group has also been given restraining orders banning them from going within 100 metres of a mosque anywhere in England or Wales for 10 years.

In his summing up, Judge Julian Lambert called it “an attack on England and the principles of freedom of religion”.

Since Crehan died nearly 18 months ago, there has been mounting speculation about the circumstances surrounding his death.

And while police dismissed it as “not suspicious”, it has not stopped several groups of people coming to Bristol to protest his death and sentence.

The latest march took place in Bristol at the end of last month, with dozens joining the ‘Gays against Sharia’ march near Temple Meads.

The Prison and Probation Ombudsman has confirmed a report into Crehan’s death has been concluded and passed to the coroner, although that is not expected to be made public until after the inquest.

Sitting in front of Avon’s senior coroner Maria Voisin, the inquest will look into the circumstances surrounding Crehan’s death, including how and why he died.

Bristol Post

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.

Bristol Post

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Lee Cousins

Lee Cousins

ONE football fan has been jailed and four others involved in trouble at the Bristol derby given suspended prison sentences.

Footage of ugly scenes in and around Ashton Gate stadium on the night of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy match between City and Rovers last September was shown to a judge at Bristol Crown Court as the five men were sentenced after all pleading guilty to a violent disorder charge.

They were: James Bagnall, 25, of Shickle Grove, Bath; Lee Cousins, 41, of Soundwell Road, Kingswood; Thomas Burke, 21, of Bredon, Yate; Alexander Parsons, 21, of Walnut Close, Coalpit Heath; Jordan Lloyd, 22, of Filton Avenue, Filton.

Sam Jones, prosecuting, said yesterday: “The violence and public disorder on display that evening was among the worst that the Avon and Somerset Constabulary have ever had to police.”

He said provocation started before the match, when City fans congregated at the Miner’s Arms pub in Bedminster and Rovers fans used the Cross Hands pub, a short distance away, with trouble erupting before kick-off on Trafalgar Terrace, close to Ashton Gate.

Inside the stadium there was further trouble when rival fans infiltrated each other’s seating areas, missiles were thrown and the pitch invaded.

After the game there was large-scale disorder in Winterstoke Road.

The judge was guided through CCTV clips highlighting each defendant’s involvement.

Bagnall was filmed using and threatening unlawful violence in a car park before the game, as well as kicking a woman police officer as she was hit in the face by another fan. He was also shown ripping out a seat in the stadium and throwing it into City fans who had invaded the pitch.

Cousins, who was said to be on the police radar as a member of a risk group, was captured on film opening an emergency gate in the stadium, which contributed to a crowd surge.

Burke was filmed in the Wedlock Stand, involving himself in disorder.

Parsons was filmed verbally abusing police before the game and pushing police in the stadium.

Lloyd told a police officer where he could shove his camera, the court heard, and was filmed pushing other fans and police in the stadium.

Mitigating, Thomas Horder said of stonemason and sportsman Bagnall: “He describes his own behaviour as appalling. He wishes to express profound remorse and apologies to the woman police officer.”

He added that Cousins was also ashamed of what he had done.

Alison Gurden, for Burke and Parsons, said “very embarrassed” Burke was a youth football coach who admitted pushing and shoving.

She said of Parsons, a Rovers fan from the age of three: “He feels he has let himself down and he’s let his family down.”

Darren Burleigh, defending Lloyd, said his client kicked out towards police some distance away.

Judge Graham Hume Jones jailed Bagnall for two-and-a-half years, with a six-year Football Banning Order (FBO). Cousins was given a two-year suspended sentence, a five year FBO and told to do 300 hours’ unpaid work. Burke received a 15-month suspended sentence, with 200 hours’ unpaid work and a three-year FBO.

Parsons received a 16-month suspended sentence, with 200 hours’ unpaid work and a three-year FBO.

Lloyd received an 18-month suspended sentence with 200 hours’ unpaid work and a three-year FBO.

The judge told the men: “There was overall violent disorder to decent football fans, the elderly, young, very young and the disabled, and to the police trying to do their job of protecting the public and keeping the peace.”

Bristol Post

Lee Cousins is an active supporter of the English Defence League and was found guilty of racially/religiously aggravated harassment last year. You can read more here

A RIOTER told police he wore a balaclava to imitate someone in a burkha during the trouble that broke out during a march in memory of murdered soldier Lee Rigby.

Craig Oakley, 41, joined a march the judge described as little more than a “pub crawl” for men aged between 18 and 35 – some of whom were members of the English Defence League,

The march was organised in Kingswood via social-networking website Facebook following the death of Drummer Rigby in Woolwich, London on May 22.

What started as a relatively peaceful event, with some 20 to 30 people involved, became fractious and resulted in police ‘kettling’ the group, that by then had swollen to around 60 people, in St George’s Hall pub in Redfield.

oakley

During that time Oakley, a security guard, was filmed by police chanting, helping build the barricade of tables and chairs in the pub and kicking out at an police officer.

The married father-of-two of Nover’s Lane, Knowle was arrested and later admitted affray.

At Bristol Crown Court he was given a five-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months with 100 hours unpaid work and must pay a £80 victim surcharge.

Richard Posner, prosecuting, said police quickly realised what had been organised as a family event was nothing of the sort and extra officers were called in.

After they saw Oakley had kicked out at a police officer and helped build the barricade in the pub he was arrested and a balaclava was found in his jeans pocket.

“He had put that balaclava on and made gestures at police officers,” Mr Posner said.

“He said he did so to imitate the wearing of a burkha. They could not say if he was shouting racist abuse.”

Mr Posner said Oakley was quick to apologise for his actions and was seen to be ashamed and embarrassed that he had let his family down.

Robert Morgan-Jones, for Oakley, made it clear there was no evidence his client was a member of the EDL, had hurled racist abuse or thrown bottles at police officers.

He added that there was substantial evidence of Oakley pulling back protesters who were attacking police and he had kicked out in a “moment of madness.”

Mr Morgan-Jones conceded Oakley’s explanation for wearing the balaclava was “ridiculous” but denied he had it there to conceal his identity.

“It speaks more of a lack of thought and stupidity than anything pre-planned,” he said.

Mr Morgan-Jones said Oakley had written a letter expressing his remorse before he was even interviewed, and he had paid a heavy price because he had been unable to get his licence from the Security Industry Authority because of his actions.

Recorder David Evans told Oakley: “You chose to take part in this event and stayed with the marchers for the duration once you had joined them. That meant going to various pubs and drinking alcohol with the group getting increasingly rowdy.

“It has been said on your behalf that kicking out at police was a moment of madness but I’m afraid I don’t agree.

“No one required you to go out drinking or to be at the forefront of the group. It was not a moment of madness, it was a moment of utterly unneeded drunken aggression.

“While wearing the balaclava is not an act of violence it is an aggravating feature and could only have been taken with you on the march with a particular intention.”


Bristol Post