Archive

Tag Archives: mosque conviction

Kevin Crehan arrived just as a corrupt prison officer was busted

Kevin Crehan died at HMP Bristol in Horfield

Kevin Crehan died at HMP Bristol in Horfield

HMP Bristol was awash with illegal drugs and phones when an inmate who died of an overdose was first transferred there – because a corrupt prison officer had been smuggling them in, an inquest has heard.

The scale of the drugs problem at the Horfield prison was laid bare at the inquest into the death of Kevin Crehan – by the very person in charge of security at the jail.

Crehan, 35, died in late December 2016, just weeks after being transferred to the Horfield jail.

The first day of a two-week inquest into his death heard he died of a drugs overdose thanks to a cocktail of five prescription drugs, particularly methadone and diazepam.

An inquest jury heard he had been ‘doing well’ in his efforts to get off drugs during the first months of his sentence, served at Guy’s Marsh Prison in Dorset.

The inquest was told he was transferred to Bristol Prison on the last day of November 2016.

Giving evidence to his inquest was Joanne Hadden, the head of security at HMP Bristol, and she was cross-examined by Mikhael Puar, representing the Crehan family.

He asked her exactly how illegal or illicit drugs found their way into the prison.

She described numerous various ways in which drugs enter the cells, and said that at the end of November 2016, just days before Crehan arrived, a prison officer had been discovered smuggling around £20,000 worth of drugs and phones into the prison to sell to inmates.

That prison officer was subsequently sent to prison themselves, for two and a half years.

It meant that, at around the time Crehan arrived, prisoners had little trouble getting their hands on illegal drugs.

Ms Hadden said that this corrupt route had meant an end to the long-standing practice of friends and family throwing illegal drugs over the walls of the prison, a strategy that had returned in the months after that corrupt officer’s supply route was busted.

But she said that there had been other suspicious officers or staff at the prison. She spoke of other people whose work brings them into the prison, about whom there had been intelligence or suspicion.

“There have been members of staff who don’t work within the prison staff themselves who, while they haven’t been arrested, have left or stopped working there and there’s intelligence that there’s a route that has ended,” she explained.

Mr Puar asked if there was a particular problem at Bristol Prison of staff ‘turning a blind eye’ to prisoners accessing or taking drugs.

“You would like to think not but I’m not naive,” said Ms Hadden. “It’s not large scale though.”

It wasn’t just corrupt staff or civilians who brought drugs in.

“Prisoners can be paid thousands of pounds to return very quickly when they are released on licence, so that they can keep the drugs coming in on the inside,” she said.

“They will be released on licence but then make sure they do something which will mean they are arrested and returned to prison, but will have drugs hidden on them.

“Other routes into the prison are from people throwing them over the wall. In those packages will will be phones and drugs,” she added.

Ms Hadden said that visitors to the prison will bring drugs and phones in, and they have increasingly found that drugs like spice will be secreted within paper sent as letters.

“We found this was happening so acted to stop it. Now instead they will send drugs in legal letters to prisoners, which we are not allowed to open, so we have to check with the individual solicitors’ office to check they actually did send this letter or not

“We’ll close down a route and a new route will open up. It’s a continuing problem we have to face.”

The problem of the tide of drugs entering HMP Horfield has been well-documented before, but has been put into the spotlight with the inquest into the death of Kevin Crehan, which began on Monday.

Toxicology tests revealed Crehan had five prescription drugs in his system: Methadone, diazepam, mirtazapin, gavepentin and pregabalin.

Only one of those – methadone – he was actually prescribed, and even then, both the toxicologist and the Home Office pathologist told the inquest it was likely, on the balance of probabilities, the amount of methadone in his system indicated he’d taken extra on top of the 60mg a day he had been prescribed.

The inquest continues.
Bristol Post

A RACE-HATE thug has been ordered to address his drinking after a boozed-up attack on a policeman.

Handcuffed and languishing in the back of a police car, Paul Grainger used both feet to kick the officer in a violent outburst.

The drunken attack came just months after the 42-year-old was released from jail following a spate of race-hate crimes.

He was once caught on camera trying to kick in the door of a mosque in Newcastle’s West End as he brandished a Union flag and St George’s Cross.

With his pet bulldog in tow, he hurled abuse at the 400 Muslims inside, who were praying on the holiest night of the Islamic calendar.

Another time he was seen to follow a black man, telling him: “Go back to your own country. Newcastle is for whites,” before spitting at his victim.

Months later, on Blackett Street, Newcastle, he abused several African men leading to a four-month jail sentence in January last year.

Now the thug has turned his anger on the authorities.

Newcastle magistrates heard how officers were called to Summerhill House hostel on Westmorland Road, Elswick, Newcastle, where Grainger was found drunk and out of control late on March 29.

David Thompson, prosecuting, told how when police attempted to restrain him, he became “verbally abusive” before his behaviour descended into violence.

“He was arrested and placed in the rear of a police vehicle,” Mr Thompson said.

“The PC then sat in the driver’s seat and said that the defendant became violent. Using both feet, he kicked out at the officer, striking the officer in the left shoulder close to his head.”

Grainger, who resides at Summerhill House, has now been ordered to undergo treatment for alcoholism.

He was also told to pay £50 compensation to the injured officer and given a 12-month community order after pleading guilty to charges of assaulting a police officer and being drunk and disorderly.

Lewis Pearson, defending, said:

“He’s been consuming alcohol from a very young age, since the age of 14. He’s clearly alcohol dependant. He describes it as ‘binge drinking’.”

Chronicle

From 2010


A Missouri man who pleaded guilty to making threatening phone calls to a Georgia mosque has been sentenced to two years in prison.

In a statement Tuesday, federal prosecutors said 50-year-old Preston Q. Howard, of Wright City, made numerous calls last year to the Islamic Society of Augusta in which he threatened to kill members of the mosque and “blow up” the mosque.

Howard acknowledged committing the acts and obstructing or attempting to obstruct the mosque members’ free exercise of their religious beliefs, the news release said.

“Threats made against houses of worship are abhorrent and this Office will work tirelessly to ensure that members of all faiths may worship in peace and without intimidation,” said U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine.

Prosecutors said Howard’s sentence was enhanced because Howard chose his victims based on their religion and “thereby committing a hate crime.”

When imposing the sentence, U.S. District Chief Judge J. Randal Hall noted Howard’s “disturbing pattern of intolerance of many groups of people.”

The Augusta Chronicle reports Hall told Howard that his actions were “terribly offensive.”

“Whatever faith you chose — that goes to the heart of who we are as a nation,” Hall said during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.

Howard told the judge and members of the mosque who attended the hearing that he was embarrassed and ashamed.

“For each one of you, I apologize,” Howard said.

During the seven and a half months he has been held without bond, Howard began to study Islam, he said, adding he understands that terrorists do not represent all Muslims.

Hall pressed Howard, however. What he saw in the pre-sentencing report, he said, was a man of intolerance. “When you’re released from prison, who’s next?” Hall asked.

Howard responded, “I am definitely not the same person.”

Defense attorney Hank Crane had asked Hall to take into account the change in Howard’s attitude. Howard had no criminal history and stopped calling the mosque once confronted by FBI agents in August 2017, Crane said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Greenwood asked Hall to consider not only the vile messages left over a three-month period, but also other indications of Howard’s intolerance — such as Confederate battle flag stickers covering his mailbox and the sticker of the president with a Hitler-style mustache overlaying a swastika, and similar messages and symbols on his three Facebook pages.

Hall granted the federal prosecutor’s request to go above the federal sentencing guideline range of 15 to 21 months. He also ordered Howard to immediately reimburse the mosque members for nearly $30,000 spent to increase security.

Speaking on the mosque’s behalf, Dr. Hossam Fadel told the judge that the members refused to let fear take them away from their faith.

Founded in 1976, the mosque has grown into a community that provides food, clothing and medical care to those in need, opened a full-time school and opened its doors to everyone in the community.

“We are part and parcel of the … community,” Fadel said.

Charlotte Observer

Members of a South Texas mosque that was set ablaze last year went up to shake hands and hug prosecutors in a federal courtroom Monday.

Just moments before,12 jurors had announced they’d found the man accused of setting the fire guilty.

“Yes,” each said when asked one by one if that was their true verdict.

The trial of Marq Vincent Perez, who was indicted last year of a hate crime related to the Jan. 28, 2017 fire at the Victoria Islamic Center, began last week at the federal courthouse.

It took the jury about three hours of deliberations before finding him guilty of three felony counts including damage to a religious property, use of fire to commit a federal felony and possession of a destructive device related to an earlier incident.

 Construction on the new mosque is about 80-85 percent complete. Eleanor Dearman/Caller-Times


Construction on the new mosque is about 80-85 percent complete.
Eleanor Dearman/Caller-Times

“No group anywhere in the United States of America should be subjected to such hate crimes,” said Omar Rachid, who handles community and public relations for the mosque.

“I think what the jury has done today, this afternoon, is send a message loud and clear that such behavior and such crimes will not be tolerated,” he continued.

U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey will decide Perez’s sentence at an Oct. 2 hearing. The date could coincide with the opening of the newly built mosque.

“God works in mysterious ways, and maybe one of those ways he has in store for us is that the sentencing could very well take place at about the time we take possession of our new mosque,” Rachid said.

Perez, wearing a grey shirt and dark rimmed glasses, sat beside his attorney Mark Di Carlo Monday as federal prosecutors presented their closing arguments to a jury. His trial was expected to last around two weeks, but the presentation of evidence concluded Friday.

A video clip of the burning mosque played on a large screen in the courtroom as prosecutor Saeed Ahmed Mody began presenting his case.

“His intention was for damage and destruction, and that’s exactly what he did,” Mody said.

 Marq Vincent Perez, 26, is escorted from the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building after a pretrial hearing. Perez, of Victoria, is accused of intentionally setting a fire that destroyed a mosque at the Islamic Center of Victoria in January 2017. Contributed// Qiling Wang, Victoria Advocate


Marq Vincent Perez, 26, is escorted from the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building after a pretrial hearing. Perez, of Victoria, is accused of intentionally setting a fire that destroyed a mosque at the Islamic Center of Victoria in January 2017.
Contributed// Qiling Wang, Victoria Advocate

He argued it was Perez’s goal to “terrorize” the Muslim community. He described the Victoria Islamic Center as a place where the community would gather for joyous occasions — weddings and weekly potlucks — as well as sad occasions.

On the trial’s first day, the jury heard from a federal prosecutor who painted Perez as having an “absolute hatred” of Muslims. Sharad Sushil Khandelwal, a prosecutor from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said Perez became involved with a militia group on Facebook and began forming what he called “rogue units.”

On Jan. 15 Perez went on a “training mission” to throw an “improvised bomb” into a car, he said. After burglarizing the mosque with a juvenile identified as K.R. on Jan. 22, the two returned on Jan. 28 but this time, Perez set the mosque on fire, Khandelwal argued last week.

 Authorities have determined arson is responsible for the fire that destroyed the Victoria Islamic Center mosque on Jan. 28, 2017. Contributed photo/ATF


Authorities have determined arson is responsible for the fire that destroyed the Victoria Islamic Center mosque on Jan. 28, 2017.
Contributed photo/ATF

But during his closing arguments, Di Carlo maintained his client’s innocence. He told jurors that the juveline’s testimony is hearsay and promoted the idea that he was not a credible witness.

He also categorized the Jan. 15 incident as separate from the Jan. 28 burglary and fire. Khandelwal said due to their belief the June 15 incident was done as a “training mission,” the two crimes were connected. He also said Perez’s DNA was found on the “improvised bomb.”

The jury was shown Facebook messages that prosecutors say show Perez’s hate of Muslims.

“He can’t keep his mouth shut and he can’t keep his fingers off the laptop either,” Khandelwal said.

The jury also listened to testimony that showed Perez’s phone contained photos of the burning mosque and that items that were stolen from the mosque were found at Perez’s residence, according to prosecutors.

Di Carlo said the government “cherry picked and oh so carefully presented” their evidence against Perez.

“We only have what the government allowed us to see,” Di Carlo said.

He also suggested that Perez was “profiled” because he’s conservative, had a brief stint in the military and was allegedly a part of the militia group.

Di Carlo flipped through a copy of the Quran that had been admitted into evidence.

“And do not cover the truth with falsehood,” he read, asking the jury to find Perez not guilty.

He told reporters after the trial’s conclusion that the entirety of Perez’s social media postings and interview with investigators weren’t allowed to be entered into evidence at trial and that “only things that were adverse to his interests came in.”

Di Carlo said he was surprised by the jury’s decision.

“As is stated throughout the trial, we do not believe that the fact that the defendant disliked Muslims is proved beyond a reasonable doubt,” Di Carlo said. “Again, as stated during the trial, there was issues regarding his concern about Middle-Eastern people, about terrorists, about illegal immigrants and the mention of religion was very, very minimal.”

“I hope that point was made to the jurors,” he continued. “Perhaps it wasn’t made well enough.”

Di Carlo said Perez took the verdict “very somberly.”

U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick lauded the conviction as a commitment to protect religious liberty.

“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the religious liberty of all people and their ability to practice their faith without being the target of this kind of dangerous activity.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division said the department ” is committed to holding hate crimes perpetrators accountable under the law.”

“All people are entitled to live free from violence and fear, regardless of their religion or place of worship,” Gore said. “Perez’s actions were criminal, unlawful and dangerous.”

Perez faces up to 20 years in federal prison for the hate crime count and up to 10 years for possessing an unregistered destructive device, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. For use of a fire to commit a felony, the penalty is consecutive and he faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. Each count carries a possible $250,000 fine.

And as Perez awaits a decision on how long he’ll be behind bars, members of the mosque are looking forward to opening the doors of their new mosque.

Construction is about 80-85 percent done. They are hoping to have it opened in September or early October, Rachid said.

One of the Victoria Islamic Center board members said despite the fire, they want the mosque to be a place that his open to the community.

“The last thing we want to do is for evil to win by making us … be separated from our community,” Abe Ajrami said.

He extended thoughts and prayers to Perez, adding that maybe Perez can use his time in jail to learn about Islam. He also extended prayers to Perez’s family.

“There is no hard feeling here, and I can tell you in the name of the Muslim community, Mr. and Mrs. Perez are invited to the open house.”

At the end of the day, what’s more important than the verdict is how the community came together following the fire, Ajrami said.

“That’s what gives me hope,” he said. “Whether Mr. Perez is out or in, that’s one person comparing to thousands in Victoria who made a clear statement that they are against the burning of any place of worship.”

Caller Times

Andrew Emery, of Bentilee, ‘let his fingers run away with him’ on day of the Ariana Grande One Love tribute concert

Drunken Andrew Emery has been jailed after he made public posts on Facebook calling for ‘mosques to be burned’ in the aftermath of the Manchester bombing.

The 45-year-old dad ‘let his fingers run away with him’ on the day of the One Love tribute concert organised by singer Ariana Grande last summer.

He posted, ‘It is time we started to fight back. The Government won’t do **** because of the PC brigade. Every time we have a terrorist attack we should burn a mosque’.

Three hours later he posted, ‘To all the British murderers and serial killers out there, do us all a favour and concentrate on the Muslim community’.

A further post read, ‘Burn a mosque today and feel better’.

His posts could be read by the wider public and he was arrested after a complaint was made to Humberside Police.

Andrew Emery was jailed after admitting stirring up religious hatred on Facebook

Andrew Emery was jailed after admitting stirring up religious hatred on Facebook

Now Emery has been jailed for two years at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.

Prosecutor Harpreet Sandhu said the comments came on June 4 last year, the day of a tribute concert following the Manchester MEN Arena bombing on May 22 in which 22 concert-goers were killed.

Mr Sandhu said: “The defendant posted, ‘It is time we started to fight back. The Government won’t do **** because of the PC brigade. Every time we have a terrorist attack we should burn a mosque, preferably when it is full’.

“Three hours later the defendant posted, ‘To all the British murderers and serial killers out there, ‘Do us all a favour and concentrate on the Muslim community’.

“He later posted in capital letters, ‘Burn a mosque today and feel better’.”

Mr Sandhu said the defendant’s posts were not confined to his 157 Facebook friends and could be seen by the wider public. The posts led to a member of the public contacting Humberside Police on June 4.

Mr Sandhu added that the posts were not isolated and Emery had made comments on previous dates including, ‘Trump had the right idea trying to stop Muslims entering his country. Maybe we should do it so we would only have to worry about the scum already here’.

The defendant told police he had posted ‘stupid comments’ on Facebook. He added he was not a racist.

Emery, of Aylesbury Road, Bentilee, pleaded guilty to three charges of publishing or distributing written material intending to stir up religious hatred.

Brian Williams, mitigating, conceded the defendant’s comments were ‘abhorrent’.

He said Emery is a hard-working family man and has a teenage daughter who is an Ariana Grande fan.

Mr Williams said: “She wanted to go to the concert but they could not afford to send her.

“At the time he drank too much and his father had just been diagnosed as terminally ill. These offences post date the terrible explosion in Manchester and there was the added factor his daughter could have been there.

“Without thinking rationally he allowed these appalling comments to pour out. He would not have gone in a pub or stood on a street corner and said such things.

“His fingers ran away with him. They were faster than his brain.”

Recorder John Butterfield QC told Emery his posts did a great disservice to those injured and killed in the arena bombing.

He said the defendant’s previous posts demonstrated that the three charges he pleaded guilty to were not isolated or uncharacteristic.

Recorder Butterfield QC said the offences were aggravated by the fact the posts advocated fatal violence, they were widely available to the public and they occurred at such a sensitive time.

He added: “They were hot on the heels of the London Bridge/Borough Market incident on June 3, the day before the tribute concert.”

Stoke Sentinel

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

Gavin Fowler called for the “extermination” of all Muslims on newspaper Facebook page.

A man who posted pro-Hitler comments on a newspaper forum has been fined £1000.

Gavin Fowler posted online abuse calling for the “extermination” of all Muslims after permission was granted to build a new mosque in Perth.

He posted the comment on a local newspaper web forum during a debate about a proposed march against the mosque by the Scottish Defence League.

Fowler, 60, said he wished Adolf Hitler would return and lead the cull.

Sheriff Lindsay Foulis said: “It would be bad enough if this comment had come from someone in their teens or early 20s.

“It would still be extremely offensive, but at least it might be put down to ignorance.

“But being the age you are, born in the 1950s, I find it hard to believe you would not have a modicum of knowledge of recent history.

“It was published in a way that others would read it and without thinking that they might be influenced by it.”

Fowler admitted posting a bigoted message aggravated by religious prejudice on August 4 last year when he appeared at Perth Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

Defence solicitor Linda Clark said: “He acts impulsively and without thinking through the consequences of his behaviour to himself or others.

“He is genuinely remorseful and embarrassed by his conduct. He is 60 and has never come to the attention of the police or the court before.”

STV