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Paul Johnson used petrol to ignite the doors of Guru Nanak Sikh Templein Edinburgh (Image: Daily Record)

Paul Johnson used petrol to ignite the doors of Guru Nanak Sikh Templein Edinburgh (Image: Daily Record)

A man who has “issues” with religion has admitted setting fire to the doors of a Sikh temple and a church.

Paul Johnson used petrol to ignite the doors of Edinburgh’s Guru Nanak Sikh Temple and Leith Methodist Church this summer because he wanted to make a “political statement”.

He told police he wanted to watch the premises burn down and hoped to be arrested.

Johnson, 49, admitted two charges of willful fireraising, aggravated by religious prejudice, on August 28 when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday. He will be sentenced next month.

The court heard the attack on the Sikh temple , to the danger of life of a family inside, was unplanned and was only carried out when unemployed Johnson came across the building.

It also heard how, on the evening of August 27, Johnson bought a container and, later, fuel worth £3.51 from a local petrol station.

Shortly before 5am on August 28, a man heading to the temple to pray spotted that fire had taken hold on one side of one of the doors and immediately raised the alarm with a man sleeping inside in the family quarters.

The fire service was then alerted and used two engines, two high reach vehicles and 11 firefighters to bring the blaze under control.

Around a couple of hours later, the caretaker at Leith Methodist Church noticed a smell of petrol and burning and cleaned up the area around the front door after realising there was no fire damage of note.

The door of the Sikh temple in Edinburgh was set alight

The door of the Sikh temple in Edinburgh was set alight

He later contact police after hearing about the incident at the temple.

CCTV footage from the area around the church between 12.03am and 12.13am showed Johnson approaching the church door, with a flash of light then visible.

Footage from the temple from 12.38am to 1.07am revealed him then approaching the door with a jerry can and lighting a piece of paper.

He returned on two further occasions during that time to light more paper and throw it towards the door before running away.

Police arrested Johnson after spotting him in Leith in the early hours of August 30.

Asked about his involvement in the two fires, he immediately told officers: “I did it.”

Advocate depute Alan Cameron told the court: “He stated that around midnight he walked to the Methodist Church in Leith and poured fuel on the doors before using a lighter to set fire to pieces of paper which he threw on the fuel.

“He stated that a small fire started but quickly went out. He stayed in the immediate area for some time but no emergency services attended.”

Johnson then walked around Leith and, on seeing the Sikh temple, set fire to its front doors using the same method.

Mr Cameron continued: “He stated that a small fire caught and he stayed in the locus as he wanted to be arrested by the police, however no emergency services attended.

“The accused stated that his intention in buying the petrol was to start the fire at the Methodist church and that the fire-raising at the Sikh temple was not planned and was only carried out when he came across the building.

“The accused was asked as to his motivation for the fires and stated that he was looking to make a political statement, but would not provide further details.

“When asked whether this was religiously motivated he stated that he has no issue with any particular religion but his issues are with religion and God in general.

“The accused was asked what his intention was by setting fire to the building and he stated that he wanted to watch them burn down.”

Johnson, listed as a prisoner in Edinburgh, has a previous conviction for culpable and reckless conduct, which earned him a four-month jail sentence in 2017.

Judge Lord Boyd deferred sentencing in the case until November 15.

Daily Record

PREVIOUS convictions for violence didn’t deter David Knowles, 42, from headbutting and punching his former girlfriend at her flat in Leith, Edinburgh.

Wife beater David Knowles (R) at a Scottish Defence League Rally in Dundee last September

Wife beater David Knowles (R) at a Scottish Defence League Rally in Dundee last September

A PROMINENT activist in the far-right Scottish Defence League has been jailed for nine months for beating up a woman.

David “Pod” Knowles, 42, headbutted former girlfriend Suzanne Sime and repeatedly punched her on the head and body.

He had a series of arguments with Suzanne over the phone before the late-night attack at her flat in Leith, Edinburgh.

Knowles, a regular at SDL rallies around Scotland, has previous convictions for violence.

He denied attacking Suzanne, forcing her to go to court to testify against him, but was convicted last week.

Knowles dated Suzanne as a teenager and attacked her after getting back in touch with her through Facebook.

She said: “He’d hit me before. He promised he wouldn’t do it again, then this took place.

“It felt like it lasted for hours but it was probably only 10 to 15 minutes.

“I had bruises all over me, including on my arms as he pinned me down, and he left a scar on my nose. My rib cage was killing me.

“But yet when the case came to court he constantly pled not guilty. The lies he came out with were disgusting. He tried to make out I was paralytic drunk.”

Shop worker Suzanne believes Knowles should have got a longer sentence. She said: “I wish I’d never got involved with him again.

“Initially, I thought, ‘Great, I haven’t seen him for years, I wonder how he’s getting on?’ You only start hearing all the stories after something like this happens.”

She added: “He was always going off to SDL protests. But while the SDL guys say they would never hit a woman, they are just hypocrites.”

Daily Record

A man who kicked his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach after he returned home from a far-right Scottish Defence League march has been jailed for more than four years.

James Mullen said he “only wanted to propose” to Christine McLeod but ended up squeezing her throat and repeatedly kicking her in the stomach.

He also injured a ten-year-old girl and lashed out at officers and said to one that he would “stab him”.

Mullen turned on a Polish neighbour who tried to stop the attack and told him to “f*** off back to your own country” before threatening to stab him.

When police arrived Mullen told them: “I went too far, I only wanted to propose to her.”

At the High Court in Aberdeen on Tuesday, Mullen was jailed for four years and four months in prison.

The 20-year-old previously pleaded guilty to assaulting Ms McLeod, 30, to the danger of her life on July 6 last year at a flat and stairwell in Kirk Street, Leith.

During the attack he forced the pregnant woman to the ground and straddled her and compressed her throat. He struck her head off walls and on the ground and repeatedly punched and kicked her.

He also admitted assaulting the ten-year-old girl by repeatedly slamming a door on her arm and assaulting Slawomir Slawinski by threatening him with violence, saying he would stab him.

Mullen also admitted acting in a racially aggravated way and resisting police.

Advocate depute Richard Goddard said Mullen had moved into the flat at Kirk Street the day before the attack, having been in a relationship with Ms McLeod, who was six weeks pregnant with his child, for several months.

The prosecutor said: “On the morning of Saturday July 6, 2013 the accused left the flat to attend a Scottish Defence League march in Aberdeen. During the day he appears to have consumed a large amount of alcohol.”

Mullen later told police he had been drinking Buckfast wine, beer and vodka all day since leaving for Aberdeen and fell asleep on the bus journey back and this had put him in a bad mood.

When he returned home Ms McLeod noted he appeared to be very drunk. They had been due to go to a party but she told him he was not to attend.

Mr Goddard said: “On being told this the accused became annoyed and began shouting aggressively at Ms McLeod suggesting that she was embarrassed by him.”

She went to a bedroom to collect keys, but he followed her and grabbed her by the throat and forced her to the floor and began squeezing her throat as she struggled to free herself.

Mr Goddard said: “The victim reports the grasp felt like a lot of pressure and she began to struggle to breathe.”

She heard Mullen shout: “You are not going anywhere.”

Mullen suddenly released his grip and said he needed to get an ambulance. The victim managed to get up and went to the front door but he started shouting and screaming at her again.

The child had heard cries for help and was starting to go into the flat, but Mullen slammed the door against her arm until she withdrew it.

Mullen began punching Ms McLeod and pushed her against a wall in the hallway. She fell to the floor and he began to kick her on the head and side.

Mr Goddard said: “The victim thinks this went on for a number of minutes as she curled up to try to protect, in particular, her stomach. She could hear children outside the flat screaming.”

The woman managed to get out into the close, but Mullen continued the assault punching her on the head and kicking her in the stomach.

The victim managed to get out of the flats after Mr Slawinski’s intervention.

Neighbours called the police and when officers arrived Mullen said: “You’re looking for me. I went too far, I only wanted to propose to her

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