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Vaughan Dowd, 55, jailed for 12 months for writing ‘no blacks’ on front door

 Vaughan Dowd. Photograph: Greater Manchester Police/PA

Vaughan Dowd. Photograph: Greater Manchester Police/PA

A man who daubed “no blacks” on the front door of the home of a Salford man and his 10-year-old son has been jailed for 12 months.

A court heard that Brexit and immigration were playing on the mind of Vaughan Dowd, 55, when he vandalised the home of Jackson Yamba, five days after the solicitor and his son moved into their flat in Greater Manchester.

Yamba, 38, said the racist graffiti had left his son, David, afraid to live in his own home after it appeared on three doors in their building on 8 February.

An image of the graffiti, tweeted by Yamba, was shared more than 12,000 times and prompted a wave of support from police, politicians and members of the public.

Manchester crown court heard on Thursday that Dowd, a single man with no children, led a “sad life”, spending his time working then drinking alcohol and watching television.

Brexit and immigration were on his mind at the time, said Dowd’s barrister, Iain Johnstone, who added: “He wishes to apologise to everyone, including the community at large, for the trouble he has caused.”

Judge Alan Conrad QC, jailing Dowd for 12 months, told the defendant his actions were “crude, bigoted and extremely hurtful”.

He added: “This country, in particular this area, the cities of Salford and Manchester, have a long and proud history of diversity and inclusivity. We welcome those who, having a right to come here, do so and when they do, lead decent and productive lives.

“What you did was not welcome in any civilised society. You have experienced anxiety, but then again many people experience anxiety and would not dream of behaving as you did.

“In reality, this was simply an outpouring of racist views held by you for which there is no excuse. It must be made clear that imprisonment will follow offences such as this.”

Superintendent Marcus Noden, of GMP’s Salford district, said: “This was a cowardly and spiteful act, and there is no place for this kind of hatred in Manchester or anywhere else.

“No one should be subjected to this kind of abuse, especially in their own home, and I hope the fact that Dowd must now face the consequences of his actions brings the victim some comfort.

“I also hope this acts as a reminder that Greater Manchester police do not tolerate any form of hate crime, and we will actively pursue those responsible and ensure they are brought to justice.”

The Guardian

A ‘well-respected’ member of the NEC staff was starting a five-year jail sentence today after being caught in possession of a stun gun and CS gas spray.

Craig Totney, left, and some of the weapons police seized

Craig Totney, left, and some of the weapons police seized

Craig Totney was also a follower of Blood & Honour, a neo-Nazi music promotion network and political group founded in 1987.

It is banned in some countries but not the UK and is composed of white nationalists with links to Combat 18.

The group organizes white power concerts by Rock Against Communism bands and distributes a magazine of the same name.

Totney, aged 40, was stopped on arrival at Birmingham International Airport from Germany by officials who seized his phone for analysis on May 22 last year, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
Halesowen raid

This led to a raid on his home in Bournebrook Crescent, Halesowen, by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit on November 13, said Miss Sophie Murray, prosecuting.

The swoop recovered a CS gas spray and stun gun together with fireworks, a baton, stab vest, machete, three knuckledusters and a Samurai sword.

These were all capable of being used in violent incidents but there was no evidence that they had been, the court was told.

The CS spray and a Taser were found at Totney’s home, while the torch Taser was at Hollingsworth’s home

National Front stickers, a Nazi arm band and right wing magazines were also recovered.

There were pictures of Hitler and right wing memorabilia among the phone data that further revealed Totney had been communicating with 32-year-old Ruth Hollingsworth, a woman he knew socially but one who classed herself as a ‘leftie.’

Among the subjects discussed was his offer of a Taser disguised as a torch, allegedly acquired via the internet from Lithuania.

She said she would not mind having one for her personal protection although she realised it was illegal.

Ruth Hollingsworth was given a suspended prison sentence

Hollingsworth turned down the additional offer of a knuckleduster, it was said.

Police raided her home in Cecil Road, Selly Park, Birmingham, on the same day as Totney’s house was searched and found the weapon still in its box with enough power to issue several charges.

The prosecution accepted she had been persuaded to take it by her co-accused who had tested a Taser on himself, the court heard.

Judge Nicholas Webb said Totney had been a highly regarded employee of the NEC but the evidence indicated he knew what he was doing with the weapons was illegal and a long sentence was required to deter others.

Totney, of previous good character, admitted possession of a CS gas spray and stun gun and transferring a stun gun to Hollingswood, who admitted possession of the weapon.

She received a two-year jail term suspended for two years with 150 hours unpaid work.

Express & Star

Unemployed ‘loner’ had photographed himself performing Nazi salutes and spewed bile about ‘degenerates’

Fletcher was convicted of planning a killing spree in Workington

Fletcher was convicted of planning a killing spree in Workington

A white supremacist who plotted a massacre in his Cumbrian hometown has been jailed for nine years.

Shane Fletcher, 21, claimed his plans to kill members of the public at a football match in Workington was merely a fantasy.

But Manchester Crown Court heard he had attempted to buy gas canisters for an explosive van attack, and compiled instructions on making pipe bombs and “improvised napalm”.

Fletcher wrote in a journal that on 4 April 2018 Workington would be obliterated – “everything and everyone will be destroyed. I will show no mercy killing you so called humans, I will be doing it with a smirk on my face.”

Judge Patrick Field QC jailed Fletcher, of Wastwater Avenue, Workington, to nine years for soliciting to murder, over trying to convince his only friend to commit the massacre with him.

Fletcher was also convicted of collecting information useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism.

He must serve at least two thirds of his custodial term and will be subject to an extended licence period of four years if the Parole Board considers him safe for release.

The self-described “loner” voiced his white supremacist beliefs and hatred for the people of Workington, who he blamed for school bullying and his inability to get a job, to a probation officer.

Fletcher was being monitored after a 32-month sentence for barricading himself inside a flat and setting it on fire after a row with his brother about his racist views.

He was referred to the government’s Prevent counter-extremism scheme nine months before he was arrested, after telling the officer he dreamed about “shooting up a mosque”, but refused to engage with the programme.

But he was not detained until March 2018, after he started detailing preparations for an attack at the “Uppies and Downies” – a three-stage football match held on the streets of Workington on and around Easter of each year.

Fletcher spoke of how easy it would be drive a van into people into the crowds and attempted to buy gas canisters, saying the only bar to his massacre was a lack of money and weapons.

A journal found under his sofa contained written instructions on how to make a pipe bomb and improvised napalm, while one entry read: “On the 4th April [2018] Workington will be oblitrated [sic], everything and everyone will be destroyed.”

Prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford told the court that despite Fletcher’s extremist beliefs, his “motive was not terrorism but hatred and a desire for revenge”.

“In part, his hatred was borne of his racist belief that people who were Jewish and not white were responsible for his inability to find work and to make any kind of a meaningful life for himself,” he added.

“However, the main source of Fletcher’s hatred was that he had or felt that he had been bullied throughout his teen years and was looked down on and victimised by the people of Workington where he had grown up.

“This hatred was flamed by his own feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy and inability arising from his inability to find work or make any kind of meaningful life or relationships for himself.”

Fletcher’s mobile phone contained photos of him performing Nazi salutes and there were images of the Ku Klux Klan on his iPad.

In police interviews he described himself as a “big fan of Hitler”, after writing in a journal about his hatred of “degenerates” from different religious and ethnic groups, women and gay people.

The phone also contained images of the Columbine High School killers, who he idolised along with Cumbrian mass shooter Derrick Bird and Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, lying dead on the ground.

He told his probation worker and police that he had started watching YouTube videos about serial killers and mass shootings since the age of 13 because he “had not gone out much”, and was excited by violence.

Lee Ingham, of the Crown Prosecution Service’s counterterrorism division, said: “Like the mass murderers he admired, Shane Fletcher wanted to achieve notoriety by committing a killing spree of his own.

“The court found this hate-consumed man to be a danger to the public and it is right he has been sentenced today to a lengthy spell in prison.”​

Fletcher unsuccessfully tried to recruit a friend to join him in the attack after they shared “snuff” videos of murders and mass shootings in Facebook messages.

In one, he told his friend that he had considered killing himself but then decided to go on a “massive killing spree” and the pair discussed methods and weapons, before his friend dropped out.

In his journal, Fletcher wrote about his self-loathing and called himself a “waste of space” and “failed human” who had let his mother down.

“I’m a freak basically have no friends have no job and have no future, been bullied most of my teen years,” he wrote. “I wanna end it all quick while taking others with me.”

Fletcher graphically detailed his desire to murder school bullies and make them “bow to my greatness and die”.

After being arrested, Fletcher denied he was planning a massacre and said his comments and writings were only fantasies from a “lonely attention seeker”. But prosecutors said his documented efforts to procure gas canisters proved his intentions were real.

In January last year, he wrote about efforts to buy or steal propane canisters for “bombs”, and had instructions to make viable pipe bombs and homemade napalm.

A diary entry written weeks before the planned atrocity read: “I have started this diary counting down the days to WM [Workington massacre] witch [sic] will be the most exciting day of my life I plan.”

Mr Ingham said: “Fletcher tried to claim his actions were nothing more than a foolish fantasy but the prosecution proved the instructions for the explosives contained in his diary were viable and could have caused catastrophic damage had they ever been acted upon.”

The Independent

Michal Szewczuk produced propaganda for a neo-Nazi group called the Sonnenkrieg Division


A teenage neo-Nazi who suggested Prince Harry should be shot for marrying a woman of mixed race has pleaded guilty to terror offences at the Old Bailey.

Michal Szewczuk, 19, of Leeds, admitted two counts of encouraging terrorism and five of possessing documents useful to a terrorist.

The charges relate to a neo-Nazi group called the Sonnenkrieg Division.

Co-defendant Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski, 18, from west London, pleaded guilty in December to encouraging terrorism.

Both of them were granted conditional bail and are due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 17 June.

The pair produced Sonnenkrieg propaganda that, among other things, said Prince Harry was a “race traitor” who should be shot, and lionised the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.

They publicised the propaganda on the social media site Gab, including on a page for the Sonnenkrieg group itself.

Szewczuk, hiding behind a pseudonym, also used a separate account to posts links to self-authored diatribes that called for the “systematic slaughtering” of women and the rape of babies.

Detectives found Szewczuk in possession of bomb-making instructions, documents describing how to conduct Islamist terror attacks and a “white resistance” manual.

The Sonnenkrieg group, which was exposed last year by a BBC investigation, was created as a British version of the American neo-Nazi organisation Atomwaffen Division, which has been linked to five murders.

Oskar Dunn-Koczorowki admitted two counts of encouraging terrorism in December

Szewczuk and Dunn-Koczorowski were arrested the morning after a BBC investigation exposed the group’s activities.

Another man was also arrested and has since been released under investigation.

The group’s ideology, which is influenced by figures such as the murderous cult leader Charles Manson, is a strain of neo-Nazism that openly encourages criminality and acts of terrorism.

Online propaganda and private chat logs show members engaging in extreme misogyny, as well as exalting Jihadist terrorism and a violent strand of Satanism.

Some private messages seen by the BBC suggest Sonnenkrieg members encouraged young women to engage in acts of self-harm.

The Sonnenkrieg Division grew out of a split in the now largely defunct System Resistance Network, which was created after the neo-Nazi group National Action was banned under anti-terror laws in 2016.

Sonnenkrieg and System Resistance Network both contained one-time members of National Action, including Dunn-Koczorowski.

BBC News

The Oldham-based gang targeted properties across Lancashire and Cheshire including a 99-year-old woman and a family who were at a funeral

An Oldham-based gang who burgled more than 50 homes across Cheshire and Lancashire have been jailed for more than 16 years.

Peter Clarke, James McMillan and Garry Dunkerley ‘ransacked’ houses over a four-month period and hid their ill-gotten gains inside pillow cases taken from their victims’ beds.

The gang broke in through rear doors and conservatories stealing ‘vast amounts’ of cash and jewellery, with either ‘high monetary or sentimental value’.

Their eldest victim was a 99-year-old woman from Nelson who lost two platinum diamond rings and a half-sovereign gold necklace.

Another family in Fence, Lancashire, had their £12,000 Toyota stolen while they were out at a funeral.

McMillan, 29, of Spring Street, Oldham, Dunkerley, 43, of Heron Street, Oldham and Peter Clarke, 27, of HMP Forest Bank all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary at Burnley Crown Court.

McMillan and Dunkerley were both jailed for six years and Clarke was jailed for four years and eight months.

The court heard how Clarke had previously been sentenced for two years and four months last year for two other house burglaries with 30 others being taken into account.

Jonathan Dickinson, prosecuting, told the court how father-of-three Clarke was arrested in December 2013 following a burglary in Alsager.

Subsequent telephone analysis showed Dunkerley, and another man still wanted by police, were in the area at the time and also on other dates ‘corresponding with further burglaries’.

In January 2014 they targeted homes in Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Poynton and Knutsford.

The court heard how, following the arrest of all three men, the ‘telephone jigsaw evidence became complete’ and information was passed to Lancashire Police.

Officers were able to link the gang to 50 burglaries across Lancashire using mobile phone and ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) evidence.

Three of the burglaries in November 2013 involved pensioners in their 70s and during one incident in Barrowford, £8,500 of jewellery and £1,500 cash were stolen.

David Farley, defending McMillan, said he couldn’t find any paid work, got into debt using a loan shark and ‘acted out of desperation’.

Vanessa Thomson, defending Clarke, said he needed to pay of ‘drug debts’.

Manchester Evening News

Steven Bishop, 41, had become fixated on the youngest victim of Manchester Arena attack

A violent racist with a history of mental health problems who admitted a terrorist offence and stockpiling equipment to bomb a mosque has been jailed for four years, one of the lowest sentences for someone plotting a potentially deadly attack.

Steven Bishop, 41, amassed commercial grade fireworks and other equipment as he formed the intention to build a homemade firebomb he would remotely detonate to attack the Morden mosque, in south London. He may serve just over another year in prison before his release on licence.

He claimed his plot was “revenge” for the Manchester arena bombing in 2017 in which 22 people died, but was stopped in October 2018 after a counsellor he saw for addictions reported Bishop to police after he told her of his plans.

Bishop had pleaded guilty earlier this week at Kingston crown court to two offences, one under the Explosive Substances Act 1883 and the other, having material useful for terrorism.

Concerns have been raised about the length of sentence, as British authorities try to show they take extremist rightwing violence as seriously as Islamist attacks.

Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the Guardian: “It is one of the lowest sentences for this kind of offence.

“I would expect the prosecution would consider appealing this sentence on the grounds that it is unduly lenient. I would be surprised if that was not the view of the Crown Prosecution Service.”

A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “There will be deep concern amongst many that this man was given a relatively light sentence even though he was poised to murder people.

“We learned from the case that Mr Bishop was driven by a hatred of Muslims. We hope we will be able to learn how the punishment fits this particularly serious crime.”

The Guardian understands the length of sentence also caused surprise among counter-terrorism investigators.

When detectives from Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command searched Bishop’s room in October 2018 they discovered fireworks as well as fuses, a remote control and igniter. He had also ordered a firing device.

He had placed virtual private network (VPN) apps on his phone to hide his online activity, which included researching explosive detonators and the target which was the Morden mosque.

Bishop, who had significant mental health problems, had stashed parts for making improvised incendiary devices at his mother’s home, hidden in a suitcase in the garden shed.

Bishop made notes detailing recipes and methods to make explosive substances.

The sentence was passed by Judge Lodder QC, who is experienced in similar cases.

In 2015 the same judge sentenced Trevor Mulindwa, an Islamist terrorist with mental health problems to six years for wanting to flee abroad. Mulwindwa, who had been treated in a mental health unit, had talked of being a suicide bomber, but had not bought bomb parts.

Sentencing Bishop, Lodder said: “The detonation of one or more of these fireworks at Morden mosque may have risked the lives of those nearby.”
“It is submitted that you are so far out of your depth that it is absurd and that the mosque was never truly in danger. In that context you are contrasted with a determined and dedicated terrorist. But terrorist acts are not limited to those who do not have similar vulnerabilities to you.”

He added: “The seriousness of the offending is reduced by your medical history, but I do not find that your condition at the time of offending was substantially reduced by mental disorder or learning disability.”

Prosecutor Dan Pawson-Pounds told the court: “Much as he never formed the final intent actually to carry out the act against the mosque at any particular point, he accepts that he carried out acts preparatory to it, and in contemplation of it.”

Bishop has had lifelong psychiatric disorders including paranoid schizophrenia, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, a possible learning difficulty and also has experience of drug abuse. His 18 previous convictions include racially aggravated common assault.

Bishop’s barrister, Timothy Forte, denied his client’s action were fuelled by extremist rightwing beliefs. His web browsing history showed him viewing a pro-Brexit site and one instance of far-right material. Forte said he was moved by a victim of the Manchester attack, Saffie Roussos, aged 8: “It is only ever about Saffie. There is no expression of anti-Islamic feeling.”

“He’s not seeking to obtain a white Britain or a Muslim-free country. He was seeking in his non-functioning manner to exact revenge for the death of an eight-year-old girl and the crown can’t demonstrate an ideological cause.”

Bishop received benefits of around £1,200 a week and used the money to buy and consume drugs.

Bishop pleaded guilty to possession of an explosive substance with intent, in breach of the Explosives Act. The charge he admitted said that Bishop had by “29 October 2018, unlawfully and maliciously made or had in his possession or under his control an explosive substance with intent by means thereof to endanger life, or cause serious injury to property”. He received four years imprisonment for that charge, and an additional one year on licence because the offence was connected to terrorism.

Bishop also admitted an offence under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000. He accepted he had “made a record of information of a kind likely to be of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. He received two years for that count, to run at the same time as the explosives offence.

The Guardian

An investigation by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command has led to the conviction of a man who was gathering together fireworks and other components to make an improvised incendiary device he was planning to use to target a mosque in south London.

Steven Bishop, 41 (28.11.77) of south London pleaded guilty at Kingston Crown Court on 8 April to possession of an explosive substance with intent, contrary to section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883.

He previously pleaded guilty to collection or making a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, contrary to section 58 of the Terrorism Act (TACT) 2000. He is due to be sentenced on 10 April.

Bishop was arrested by Counter Terrorism detectives on Monday, 29 October 2018, at his address in south London. Officers attended the address after police were contacted by one of Bishop’s key workers when he showed her images of items he was collecting for the purpose, he said, to build ‘a bomb’, and told her that he was intending to target a mosque.

Commander Clarke Jarrett head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command said: “From our investigation it was clear Bishop stockpiled a quantity of fireworks and other component parts with the intention of creating a device that he was intending to use to target a mosque. Thanks to the diligence of his key worker in alerting us we were able to intervene before he could progress with his plans any further and crucially, nobody came to any harm.

“This example shows that information we get from the public really can help to protect the public and save lives. If you have any information about suspicious or terrorist activity, then please ACT and call police on 0800 728 321.

“Given Bishop was focussed upon a mosque, and in light of recent events in New Zealand, we also know that Muslim and other faith communities may be feeling particularly concerned and vulnerable. Specialist officers continue to provide support and protective security advice to mosques, and indeed all places of worship across the UK on how to best keep their buildings and visitors safe.”

After the concerns over Bishop were raised to police, officers initially attended his address and Bishop claimed he was just planning to let fireworks off at his mother’s address in south-west London. However, further enquiries were carried out and on 29 October 2018 Bishop was arrested at his mother’s home address. When detectives searched his address, they found several fireworks – some of which had been tampered with, as well as other equipment associated with making homemade incendiary devices, including fuses and remote control and ignitor. A firing device was also delivered to Bishop’s address two days after his arrest.

Officers identified that Bishop had bought a smartphone on 18 October 2018. The first searches made on the phone were for instructions on how to access the ‘dark web’ and he carried out research on how to conduct covert internet searches.

Further analysis of his device showed Bishop visited sites and viewed videos about the Manchester, London Bridge and Paris terrorist attacks. Detectives found a comment Bishop had posted on 24 October 2018 in relation to a video on Facebook about the victims of the Manchester Arena attack which ended with him saying: “don’t worry something bad is going to happen soon mark my words”.

Two ‘VPN’ apps were downloaded on to the phone – the apps are designed to hide which internet sites and online information the user has been accessing. However, when they opened one of the apps, officers found a page was still open, which showed Bishop had been researching further details on explosives detonators. Bishop had also carried out a number of online searches for Morden mosque.

Police searched Bishop’s mother’s address where they found wrapping that matched the fireworks at his home address. In the garden shed, detectives found a red suitcase inside which they found component parts which could be combined to create an improvised incendiary device.

Furthermore, detectives also found a number of hand-written notes by Bishop with detailed information on how to make various explosive substances, as well as information on how to access the dark web. The notes were deemed to be of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

After questioning and whilst further enquiries were being carried out, Bishop was charged a week after his arrest on 5 November 2018 and subsequently pleaded guilty to the offences above.

Following the guilty plea, Bishop was remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced on Wednesday, 10 April at Kingston Crown Court.

Met Police