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A MAN who spray-painted swastikas around the city and set fire to buildings including a school and a church over the course of a month has pleaded guilty to all charges.

Austin Ross, 23, of Romney Close in Newport, pleaded guilty to 15 counts in total at a brief hearing in Cardiff Crown Court today.

The charges relate to a series of swastikas and racially aggravated graffiti and two arson attacks in Newport between May 2 and May 31 this year.

Two swastikas appeared on a wall and post at the University of South Wales building in Newport city centre during the late May bank holiday weekend.

Alongside one of the swastikas was a message apparently written in support of far right activist Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who co-founded the English Defence League.

Today, Ross admitted nine counts of causing racially aggravated damage to property.

He owned up to damaging the windows of the Riverfront Theatre in the city centre on May 3, the front door of the Bethel Baptist Church in Bassaleg and a school sign belonging to Maindee Primary School on May 4, as well as a footbridge belonging to Newport City Council on May 5.

Ross also targeted Maindee Primary school a second time on May 28, the Gwent Probation Service building on Lower Dock Street between May 27 and May 31, the University of South Wales Newport campus and the walls of the Masonic Hall on May 28.

Four other counts of racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress were admitted by Ross between May 2 and May 5.

The charges read out in court noted his actions were based on the membership or perceived membership of a particular racial group.

He also admitted two counts of arson, setting fire to the front doors and hallway of the Masonic Hall in Lower Dock Street on May 28 and destroying a classroom at Bassaleg secondary school on May 29.

Judge Eleri Rees, addressing Ross’ legal representative Harry Baker, warned that the defendant was “not helping himself” by refusing to cooperate, and added she would order a psychiatric assessment before sentencing.

“A more sinister interpretation can be put on his behaviour because he has not explained his actions,” said Judge Rees.

“It does make it difficult for anybody to second guess that there might be a background that could help explain this.

“He doesn’t help himself in that way.

“I’m going to order a psychiatric assessment and we will set up a time table for sentencing.”

Addressing the defendant, Judge Rees added: “I would encourage you to try to cooperate and reflect upon what could be of assistance to you.”

Ross will now appear in court on August 21 for sentencing.

South Wales Argus.

A MAN drank 12 pints of cider and called an Asian police officer “a f****** P*** b******” before yelling “I am EDL” in Darlington’s police cells.

Thomas Mason also shouted out in support of imprisoned far-right activist Tommy Robinson after being arrested for being drunk and disorderly following an evening in the town’s Tubwell Tap public house on June 2.

But it was his language towards an ethnic minority police officer which earned him a more serious charge.

The 35-year-old, from South Kirby, Pontefract, appeared before magistrates in Newton Aycliffe yesterday and pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly, and a racially-aggravated public order offence.

Lorna Rimell, prosecuting, said: “Police were called by the door staff at the Tubwell Tap.

“The defendant was in a state of intoxication. Police approached him and he told them to f*** off and said ‘I f****** love England’.

“He was warned three times about his abusive behaviour and language and he told them again to f*** off.

“He was arrested and taken to the police station where he met the PC. The defendant spoke to him in a mocking tone.

“He then said you f***** P*** b****, I am EDL.

“He was chanting EDL, EDL, EDL and also ‘Tommy Robinson’.”

Once he had sobered up Mason, a forklift truck driver, told police he had drunk 12 or more pints of cider and had only a vague recollection of events.

“He said he doesn’t consider himself to be racist,” said Ms Rimell.

“He said he was disgusted when told about his actions.”

The court heard that Mason visited Darlington to offer support to a friend who was going through a difficult time and accepted he had become ‘completely intoxicated’.

Darren Brown, mitigating on behalf of Mason, said the defendant had very recently come out of a 12-year relationship and had two young children aged one and four, and had been drinking as things had started to get on top of him.

He had been using alcohol as a way to deal with emotional trauma, the court heard, and now had to regret the night he spent in a police cell.

Mr Brown added: “He states that he is not a racist person and has no idea why he would say such things. He also doesn’t usually drink because he works nights.”

Magistrates said had the case not been racially motivated it would be been considered a a far more minor offence.

Mason was handed a £300 fine, ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

Northern Echo

Michael Sancaster sank his teeth into the face of a 24-year-old man in Newcastle city centre during an altercation

Michael Sancaster who bit off part of a man's eyebrow in a city centre attack (Image: Northumbria Police)

Michael Sancaster who bit off part of a man’s eyebrow in a city centre attack (Image: Northumbria Police)

These are the horrific injuries a man suffered when a thug bit off part of his eyebrow in a city centre attack outside a takeaway.

Violent Michael Sancaster, 33, was drinking alone at the Eazy Street bar but was thrown out after he began to bother a woman on a hen party.

He decided to go to the Magic Flame takeaway following the incident where he then got into an argument with a 24-year-old man.

Sancaster became involved in a physical altercation but was thrown out by takeaway staff before the situation escalated.

However, he lay in wait for his victim outside the takeaway and 20 minutes later approached him to offer a reconciliatory handshake.

The man went to shake his hand only for Sancaster to shout “kidding”, before punching the man in the face and wrestling him to the ground.

A court heard how a fight then ensued during which the violent thug sunk his teeth into the eyebrow of his victim and ripped out a chunk of it.

 The injury inflicted by Michael Sancaster when he bit part of a man's eyebrow in a city centre attack (Image: NCJ Media)

The injury inflicted by Michael Sancaster when he bit part of a man’s eyebrow in a city centre attack (Image: NCJ Media)

Friends of the victim flagged down a passing police car who quickly attended the scene and Sancaster, of Marshall Street, Sunderland, was arrested.

His shocked victim was left with blood pouring from the gaping three-inch wound that required stitches in hospital.

Sancaster later admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and he was jailed for 40 months at Newcastle Crown Court.

Following the case, investigating officer Detective Constable Matt Murray branded Sancaster a “dangerous offender” who deserved to spend time behind bars.

He said: “Michael Sancaster had found himself alone in a bar in the hours before the attack and in my opinion was looking for a fight.

“He had been thrown out of a bar for bothering a hen party and was angry when he made his way to the Magic Flame takeaway.

“There he came upon his victim and his group of friends. He tried to start a fight but they were not interested in engaging with him.

“Instead he waited outside the takeaway and sucker-punched his victim at the same time as they were trying to make peace.

“This was an unprovoked attack that ended up with Sancaster tearing out a piece of his victim’s eyebrow with his teeth.

“It is a violent assault by someone that I would describe as a dangerous offender.

“I am glad to see him handed a lengthy custodial sentence.”

Newcastle Chronicle

Tommy Robinson outside Leeds Crown Court. A screengrab from a video taken of Robinson as he was arrested by police.

Tommy Robinson outside Leeds Crown Court. A screengrab from a video taken of Robinson as he was arrested by police.

The founder of the English Defence League has been jailed over comments made on camera outside Leeds Crown Court which had the potential to de-rail a long running trial.

Tommy Robinson filmed himself during an hour-long rant outside the court building which he streamed on Facebook Live and was viewed a quarter of a million times

A judge who locked the right wing activist up for 13 months for contempt of court told him his actions may cause the sensitive case to be abandoned.

The court heard it could cost taxpayers “hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds” if a re-trial has to be held.

A strict order is currently in place temporarily banning publication or broadcasting details of the long-running case or anyone involved.

Media will be able to reveal details of the case later this year.

The Yorkshire Evening Post can now reveal details of Robinson’s sentencing hearing which took place last Friday.

Robinson, of Oakley Rise, Wilstead, Bedford, was arrested after naming defendants in the case, the charges they face and details of the allegations.

He also filmed defendants and confronted them as they were entering the building on Oxford Row.

The 35-year-old was held in the court cells before being taken into the court to face trial judge Geroffrey Marson, QC.

The judge explained why Robinson’s actions had been in contempt of court.

He said the order had been made to ensure the “integrity” of the case.

The judge said: “Nothing may occur which will prejudice the trial.”

He added: “He was expressing his views. Everyone understands the right to freedom of speech but there are responsibilities and obligations.”

The video footage was played to the judge in court before he dealt with Robinson.

He said: “He was approximate to where defendants go in and approximate to where jurors go in.

“He was making a video. He was referring to this case.

“He referred to the charges that the defendants faced and some charges which are not proceeded against in relation to some defendants.”

The court heard the footage had received 250,000 views and a story about Robinson’s arrest was the lead article on a national newspaper website.

Judge Marson said: “Not only was it a very long video but I regard it as a serious aggravating feature that he was encouraging others to share it and it had been shared widely.

“That is the nature of the contempt.”

Yorkshire Post

Tommy Robinson has been jailed for 13 months for breaking contempt of court laws.

His sentence can be revealed for the first time after The Independent and other media outlets fought a reporting restriction put on the case at Leeds Crown Court.

Robinson, whose real name was listed on court documents as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was arrested outside the court on Friday.

He admitted committing contempt of court by publishing information that could prejudice an ongoing trial.

The 35-year-old was already subject to a suspended sentence for committing contempt during a rape trial in Canterbury last year, and had been told that if he fell foul of the law again he would go to prison.

The Independent

James Swindlehurst

James Swindlehurst



A ‘HORRIFIC’ South Yorkshire paedophile who raped two vulnerable young children after buying them sweets has been jailed for 20 years.

James Andrew Swindlehurst, 43, of Rockingham Street, Honeywell, Barnsley was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court after being found guilty of 13 non-recent counts of rape and indecent assault of a child.

Swindlehurst denied the offences against two victims that spanned a five-year period during the 1990s and 2000s.

He was found guilty by a jury following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court in October.

Detective Constable Elinor Duke, leading the investigation, said: “This man took advantage of the fact that the children were vulnerable.

“He gained their trust by building a friendship with them and making them feel ‘needed’.

“He would buy them sweets and take them out before carrying out a prolonged period of sexual abuse, telling them that there was no point telling anyone as nobody would believe them.”

The victims made a disclosure to police in April 2014 and Swindlehurst was arrested and a full investigation was carried out.

DC Duke added: “The bravery that the victims have shown in coming forward is exceptional.

“They did it with the motivation to prevent Swindlehurst hurting any other children.

“It is testament to the courage of the victims that he is now facing 20 years behind bars and I hope today’s sentencing sends a message that we will take action and catch those responsible for such horrific acts.”

Yorkshire 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