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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

Christopher Smethurst repeatedly knifed the taxi driver after launching a ‘vicious, frenzied and entirely unprovoked attack’

A violent thug high on a cocktail of cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis and whisky repeatedly knifed a taxi driver in a random attack after finding out his girlfriend had ‘slept with his neighbour’.

Christopher Smethurst, 32, screamed ‘die, die, die’ as he stabbed his victim in the face and body after he had been taken to an address in Moss Side.

The career criminal claimed he was upset as he had just found out his girlfriend had slept with his neighbour.

But a judge slammed the ‘vicious, frenzied and entirely unprovoked attack’ and jailed Smethhurst for 19 years and four months.

His victim, a 42-year-old driver working for Street Cars, had picked him up from outside Chico’s takeaway in Longsight and had appeared to be chatty and friendly during the journey to an address in Ruskin Avenue in Moss Side on November 11 last year.

The private hire driver told him the fare of £5.20, but there was no reply and when he turned around Smethurst lunged at him with a kitchen knife – which was five or six inches long – prosecutor David Temkin told Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court.

Smethurst shouted ‘die, die, die’ as he repeatedly stabbed his victim in the neck.

The taxi driver tried in vain to wrestle the knife from his attacker, suffering more stab wounds to his hands, before Smethurst pulled at the driver’s seat-belt, pinning him against the back rest, and continued to knife his victim in the face.

The driver, who was bleeding heavily, managed to escape, but Smethurst got out and continued the sickening attack in the street.

The desperate cabbie ran barefoot down the street – after his shoes came off during the assault – knocking on doors and begging for help.

Eventually, one resident took him in and dialled 999 as Smethurst.

Police found blood all over the inside and on the outside of the car. The victim was taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary where he was treated for ten serious stab wounds to his hands, arms, chest and head.

He was left with a fractured eye-socket and needed plastic surgery to repair the stab wounds and damage to nerves and tendons.

“I thought I was going to be killed,” the driver later told the police, describing how the attack had caused significant psychological and physical damage.

Smethurst was arrested ten days later in Crewe where he had intended to rob shop with a toy gun he had spray-painted black.

Hand-written notes were found in his bag one of which read: “Nothing to lose anymore. Empty the cash in the bag. I have a 9mm Glock.”

His DNA was found in a bag which he had left at the takeaway in Longsight which, together with CCTV and evidence from the driver, linked him to the assault.

Smethurst was said to have a series of criminal convictions, including one for battery.

Jonathan Turner, defending, said his client had expressed ‘genuine remorse’ in letters he had sent both to the judge and his victim.

The barrister said his client ‘had no idea’ why he had launched the attack, but said it had followed an argument he had had with his girlfriend, in which he discovered she had ‘slept with a neighbour’.

The defendant had consumed ‘a large quantity of drink and drugs’ and had ‘simply lost his mind’, said Mr Turner.

“He knows that is absolutely no excuse for the way he behaved that day,” he added.

Judge John Potter told Smethurst he was considered so dangerous he must serve a minimum two-thirds of the 19 years and four months jail sentence.

Smethurst, of no fixed abode, but originally from Crewe, pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm with intent and possessing an imitation firearm.

Manchester Evening News

Liam Edwards at Manchester Magistrates Court

Liam Edwards at Manchester Magistrates Court

A man who went into his local Sainsbury’s supermarket and stuck stickers on packets of meat that read “beware halal is barbaric and funds terrorism” has been given a month-long curfew.

Liam Gary Edwards, 29, today pleaded guilty to racially aggravated criminal damage on the day of his trial but insisted that he was protesting against the halal slaughter of animals after watching a television documentary.

The self-proclaimed “animal lover” stuck nine stickers with the hashtag #banhalal on halal poultry products after obtaining the stickers over the internet.

At an earlier hearing held at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court, the van driver pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis after police found the Class B during a search of his home in Chancel Avenue, Ordsall, following the incident.

Today the same court was told that CCTV captured Edwards going into the supermarket on Regent Road, Salford, on February 20 with his girlfriend and two young children.

Later staff at the store became aware of the stickers on various packets of chicken breasts, thighs and a whole chicken worth £16.50 which could no longer be sold due to concerns for contamination.

Upon searching the hashtag term on Twitter, staff found images of the stickers on trollies and point of sale displays.

For the prosecution, Miss Lisa Connor said that upon his arrest Edwards apologised to officers.

She said: “He accepted he had been in possession of the stickers and placed them on various items. He got involved in a Twitter conversation about halal and maintains that his whole motivation was his concern for the way in which halal meat is obtained and what happens in abattoirs.”

She added that he had never disputed the offence and accepted the prosecution’s case

“He maintained he wasn’t motivated by any racial prejudice he just wanted to highlight the cruelty involved. He admitted he was sorry for his actions.”

The court heard that he had no similar matters on his record.

For Edwards, Mr Lee Hammond said that after watching a documentary on how livestock were dealt with in slaughterhouses he had taken to Twitter.

There he came across others who shared views of what they perceived to be “unfavourable methods” and one sent him the stickers.

Mr Hammond said: “Unfortunately the group he had found had more extreme views that went in to religion, funding and terrorism.”

He added that there had not been any complaints to the store or the police by members of the Muslim community.

Edwards told the bench: “I’m a big animal lover, be it for racial or other purposes I believe it is wrong to treat animals in that way.”

In passing sentence of a four-week curfew for the two offences to run between 9pm and 7am, chairman Mrs Vanessa Goldstone said it had not been “a run-of-the-mill case”.

He must also pay £100 prosecution costs, £60 surcharge and £16.50 compensation.

Manchester Evening News

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marcus ward

A drug dealing English Defence League supporter slashed two men with a cut throat razor during a brutal gang attack at a pub.

Twenty-six year-old Marcus Ward went on the run for two-and-a-half years following the attack in March 2010, only handing himself in to police in September last year.

Judge Jonathan Foster QC branded Ward a ‘dangerous man’ at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court as he jailed him a total of 11 years. Ward and fellow supporters of the far-right organisation visited the Oddfellows in Middleton following a march in Bolton.

But the gang, who were wearing English Defence League clothing and carrying EDL flags, were asked to leave the Oldham Road pub by the concerned landlord due to their rowdy behaviour.

When the landlord went outside to explain why he had asked them to leave he was punched and kicked in the face.

Two bystanders went to help the landlord, when Ward, formerly of North Street, Boarshaw, assaulted them with a cut-throat razor.

One victim was left with a 15cm cut to the back of his head and a cut lip. The other suffered slashes running from his left shoulder to his back. One wound was so serious he needed surgery.

The court was told Ward was one of eight children raised by a father who was described by the judge as a violent ‘habitual criminal’, after his mother left home when he was four years old.

Ward was on bail for firearms offences at the time of the attack. He was caught with a pistol and a sawn-off shotgun with rounds of ammunition during a police search of his former home.

Police also found an air rifle, a crossbow, a machete, £5,413 worth of cannabis, £160 in cash, a dealers’ list and some snap bags.

Ward, who had previously pleaded guilty to two charges of wounding with intent and possession of an offensive weapon, and pleaded guilty to two counts of firearms possession, possession of ammunition and possession of cannabis with intent to supply, told the court that the firearms belonged to his late father, who had asked him to look after them for him.

He denied that he kept firearms for protection because he was dealing drugs.

Ward, who admitted that he did sell drugs to friends, but said it wasn’t on a large scale, said: “He was pretty strict my old man and whatever he said went. I didn’t feel that I could refuse his request.”

Ward was sentenced to a total of 11 years imprisonment, with six-and-a-half years concurrent for possession of a firearm, possession of ammunition, possession of a shotgun and possession of cannabis with intent to supply, and four-and-a-half years concurrent for two charges of section 18 wounding and possession of an offensive weapon, namely a cut-throat razor and violent disorder.

After sentencing Detective Inspector Andy Butterworth said: “This is a dangerous individual who was pursued relentlessly by the police.”

Manchester Evening News

English Defence League clash with anti-fascist groups in Manchester.
English Defence League clash with anti-fascist groups in Manchester.

AN English Defence League supporter has been fined for his role in the organisation’s October protest in Manchester city centre.

Lee Howarth, 24, from Milnrow in Rochdale, was arrested at Piccadilly Station on October 10, after shouting abuse and swearing at police officers. Hundreds of EDL supporters gathered on the day to demonstrate.

Manchester magistrates’ court heard yesterday how Howarth, who is unemployed, persisted in swearing at police despite repeatedly being told to ‘calm down’.

With his fists raised, Howarth responded: ‘Think you’re a big man? Make me.’

Howarth was drunk at the time.

Philip Lythgoe, defending, said Howarth accepts he swore but that it was in response to being ‘pushed around by police’.

Chairman of the bench, Iain Simms, said: ‘Police are there to do a job and you don’t expect them to be shouted and sworn at.’

Howarth pleaded guilty to a public order offence of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour and was fined a total of £100.

The EDL claims only to oppose radical Islam but supporters were seen at the October demonstrations making Nazi salutes.

Around 1,500 people joined a counter protest by Unite Against Fascism and the two sides faced-off for five hours, separated by police in riot gear and on horseback.

A total of 48 people were arrested during the day and the demonstration left the city with an £800,000 bill.

Manchester Evening News