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Muslims at a mosque feared an attack after a teenager daubed graffiti outside the building following the killing of soldier Lee Rigby, a court heard.

Oadby Central Mosque

Oadby Central Mosque

Worshippers at Oadby Central Mosque believed they could be assaulted after “EDL” – a reference to the English Defence League – was scrawled on a charity clothing bin outside the building.

Prosecutor Safina Desai told Leicester Youth Court yesterday how the 17-year-old graffiti vandal wrote “EDL” on the bin in Sandhurst Street days after the attack on Mr Rigby in London on May 22.

In a victim statement read out in court, Muhammed Katib, chairman of Oadby Central Mosque, which is also a community centre, told how Muslims were in fear of being attacked.

After the killing of Mr Rigby, mosques had been set on fire.

“We were on red alert and very concerned about what had happened,” said Mr Katib.

“We were fearful that the mosque would be damaged or set on fire or people would be attacked.”

Mr Katib told how the mosque was watched 24 hours a day for a while, and worshippers stayed away for fear of being targeted.

Mrs Desai said the defendant, who is from Oadby and cannot be named because of his age, was arrested after police identified his “tag” – a signature – on the graffiti.

When his home was searched, police found pens that matched the colour of the graffiti on the bin.

Mrs Desai said the teenager admitted he had scrawled the graffiti.

“He told police he had heard about what had happened in London and did not like it,” she said. “He wanted to do something about it. He was aware that the centre was used as a mosque.”

Mrs Desai told the court that the teenager had already scrawled “EDL” on the windows of the centre and on the same charity clothes bin on May 13.

She said Mr Katib had dismissed that graffiti as a “one-off” event, but was very alarmed after the second attack.

The teenager pleaded not guilty to two charges of racially-aggravated criminal damage on May 13 and between June 6 and 11.

He was convicted of both offences after a two-day trial at Leicester Youth Court on September 17.

Alan Mee, representing the teenager at the sentencing hearing yesterday, said the 17-year-old regretted what he had done.

The teenager said: “I am sorry if I caused any grief or fear or anything.”

Chairman of the bench Bruce Chater gave the teenager a 12-month rehabilitation order with supervision.

The youth is to be electronically tagged for two months and must observe a curfew between 9pm and 7am every day.

Mr Chater told the teenager: “I think on reflection you understand what you did and how something like this affected the community.”

Leicester Mercury

Liam Ferrar outside Leicester Magistrates Court, where he was sentenced for leaving a pig's head on the steps of a Muslim community centre

Liam Ferrar outside Leicester Magistrates Court, where he was sentenced for leaving a pig’s head on the steps of a Muslim community centre


Liam Ferrar, 24, admitted leaving the frozen head outside a Muslim community centre in Leicester on Boxing Day last year

An office worker who left a pig’s head on the steps of a Muslim place of worship has been spared a jail sentence.

Liam Ferrar, 24, admitted leaving the frozen head outside a Muslim community centre in Leicester on Boxing Day last year, in a religiously motivated attack.

Ferrar, of Brook Road, Leicester, pleaded guilty last month to causing religiously aggravated harassment by leaving the frozen pig’s head on the steps of the city’s Thurnby Lodge Community Centre.

He was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for a year, after the court heard he had written a letter of apology to his victims and was disgusted by his actions.

Sentencing Ferrar at Leicester Magistrates’ Court, District Judge John Temperley described the offence as being “to some extent planned, premeditated and targeted”.

The district judge told Ferrar: “You were well aware of the significance of your actions.

“You knew that what you did would cause great distress, indeed that was your intention.”

The court heard that Ferrar was under the influence of alcohol when he placed the pig’s head – which had been stored in a freezer for several months – in an area where it could not be avoided by adults and children arriving for prayers.

Stressing that the offence had taken place against a background of protests at the community centre’s use as a place-of-worship, District Judge Temperley added: “It is easy to imagine the shock, distress and disgust (those who discovered the pig’s head) would have felt.

“The witnesses statements I have read bear testimony to the serious impact of your actions, but the harm you caused goes further.

“Others in the local community and beyond would also have been affected when news of this incident spread, prompting profound alarm, fear and insecurity.

“It should have been obvious that what you did was intimidatory and would only serve to enflame an already tense and volatile situation.”

Suspending the 12-week prison term because of Ferrar’s personal mitigation, including his previous good character, the district judge accepted that the defendant regularly gave his time and energy to local good causes.

District Judge Temperley told Ferrar, who was also ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid community work and pay £85 in costs: “The character references I have read do you great credit.

“I also accept that you have demonstrated genuine remorse and regret for your actions. You co-operated with the police and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.”

Louise Cox, prosecuting, told the court a group calling itself Forgotten Estates had stepped up protests at the community centre last summer.

Defence solicitor Stephen Morris said the protest group, of which Ferrar was a member, aimed to highlight the lack of facilities in the Thurnby Lodge area.

Claiming that his client had chosen to distance himself from Forgotten Estates in September last year, Mr Morris said: “The behaviour by Mr Ferrar on this occasion is out of character – he is not somebody who displays racist tendencies.”

The Independent