Archive

Tag Archives: murder

A Barnsley killer who has spent the first night of a life sentence behind bars has shown no remorse for his actions, detectives have revealed.

Ricky Ramsden, aged 27 and formerly of Dodworth Road, was jailed for life yesterday after being found guilty of the murder of 39-year-old Dawid Szubert in Barnsley town centre in June.

He was ordered to serve a minimum of 17 years behind bars for killing Mr Szubert in broad daylight as he lay unconscious near the Civic Gardens after taking the drug Spice.

Ramsden stamped on his victim’s head, triggering a cardiac arrest and Mr Szubert was pronounced dead at the scene.

South Yorkshire Police said the killer had ‘taken exception’ to Mr Szubert having taken Spice and had shown no remorse for the murder.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Whittaker said: “The brutality and callousness shown by Ramsden is as shocking as it is appalling and throughout our inquiry, he has shown no remorse for his actions and has continued to deny his involvement in Mr Szubert’s death.

“The court heard that on that day Mr Szubert, a Polish national who had lived in Barnsley for approximately two years, had taken the drug spice and was laid unconscious.

“Ramsden took exception to this, walked over to Mr Szubert and stamped on his head, stating that he was sick of seeing spice heads.”

Sheffield Star

An avowed supporter of neo-Nazi beliefs who took part in the violent and chaotic white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in this city last year was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder for killing a woman by ramming his car through a crowd of counterprotesters.

A jury of seven women and five men began deliberating Friday morning and took just over seven hours to reach its decision that James Alex Fields Jr., 21, of Maumee, Ohio, acted with premeditation when he backed up his 2010 Dodge Challenger and then roared it down a narrow downtown street crowded with counterprotesters, slamming into them and another car. Heather D. Heyer, 32, was killed and 35 others injured, many grievously.

The deadly attack in the early afternoon of August 12, 2017 culminated a dark 24 hours in this quiet college town. It was marked by a menacing torchlight march through the University of Virginia campus the night before, with participants shouting racist and anti-Semitic insults, and wild street battles on the morning of the planned rally between white supremacists and those opposing their ideology.

As the sounds and images of brutal beatings, bloodied faces and hate-filled chants spread across the country and around the world, this city quickly became identified with the emergence of a new order of white supremacy that no longer felt compelled to hide in the shadows or the safety of online anonymity.

Many in their emboldened ranks shouted fascist slogans, displayed Nazi swastikas and Confederate battle flags and extended their arms in Sieg Heil salutes. And many also wore red Make America Great Again hats, saying they were encouraged in the public display of their beliefs by President Trump, who later that week would say that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the demonstration.

Fields’s conviction followed six days of testimony in Charlottesville Circuit Court, where Heyer’s deadly injuries were detailed and survivors of the crash described the chaos and their own injuries. Jeanne Peterson, 38, who limped to the witness stand with the help of bailiffs, said she’d had five surgeries and would have another next year. Wednesday Bowie, a counterprotester in her 20s, said her pelvis was broken in six places. Marcus Martin described pushing his then-fiancee out of the Challenger’s path before he was struck.

Susan Bro, Heyer’s mother, sat near the front of the crowded courtroom every day watching the proceedings overseen by Judge Richard E. Moore. Fields’s mother, Samantha Bloom, sat in her wheelchair on the other side, an island in a sea of her son’s victims and their supporters.

[From wary observer to justice warrior: How Heather Heyer’s death gave her mom a voice]

For both prosecutors and Fields’s defense lawyers, the case was always about intent. Defense attorneys Denise Lunsford and John Hill did not deny Fields drove the car that killed Heyer and injured dozens. But they said it was not out of malice, rather out of fear for his own safety and confusion. They said he regretted his actions immediately, and pointed the jury to his repeated professions of sorrow shortly after his arrest and his uncontrollable sobbing when he learned of the injuries and death he had caused.

“He wasn’t angry, he was scared,” Lunsford told the jury in her closing argument.

Early in the trial the defense said there would be testimony from witnesses concerning Fields’s mental health, but those witnesses were never brought forward.

Prosecutors, though, said Fields was enraged when he drove more than 500 miles from his apartment in Ohio to take part in the rally — and later chose to act on that anger by ramming his two-door muscle car into the crowd. They described Fields “idling, watching” in his Challenger on Fourth Street and surveying a diverse and joyous crowd of marchers a block and a half away that was celebrating the cancellation of the planned rally.

They showed video and presented witnesses testifying that there was no one around Fields’s car when he slowly backed it up the street and then raced it forward down the hill into the unsuspecting crowd. In her final address to the jury Thursday, Senior-Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Nina-Alice Antony showed a close-up of Fields in his car to rebut the idea that he was frightened when he acted.

“This is not the face of someone who is scared,” Antony said. “This is the face of anger, of hatred. It’s the face of malice.”

Jurors were shown a now-deleted Instagram post that Fields shared three months before the crash. “You Have the Right to Protest, But I’m Late for Work,” read the post, accompanied by an image of a car running into a group of people.

As he looked down the crowded street Fields saw a chance, Antony told the jury, to “make his Instagram post a reality.”

Jurors also saw a text exchange shortly before the rally in which Fields told his mother he was planning to attend, and she told him to be careful. “We’re not the one who need to be careful,” Fields replied in a misspelled text message on Aug. 11, 2017. He included an attachment: a meme showing Adolf Hitler.

Lunsford dismissed the significance of the Hitler photo and Fields’s Instagram post and asked the jury to ignore how they felt about Field’s political views when deciding whether to convict him.

“You can’t do that based on the fact that he holds extreme right-wing views,” she said.

April Muñiz, 50, was on Fourth Street when Fields drove into the crowd. She escaped physical injury but is still traumatized by witnessing the violent act and seeing so many people she was celebrating with one moment suffer horrific injuries the next. Muñiz attended every day of the proceedings and said the trial helped her “pull the shattered pieces of that day together.”

The guilty verdict for Fields is not the end of his legal troubles. He still faces a federal trial on hate crimes that carries the possibility of the death penalty.

And the guilty verdict does not bring an end to this city’s misery. The legacy of that hate-filled weekend hangs over the city, a cloud that refuses to blow away. The physical and psychic injuries are slow to fade. The trial surfaced painful memories and emotions for many in this small city who were in the streets that day or have friends and acquaintances who were injured.

The city became the focal point for white supremacists when city council members voted to remove statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson from downtown parks. The statues were erected in the 1920s during the Jim Crow era. After the August violence, the council voted to sell both statues, but they remain in place for now under a court injunction. Confederate heritage supporters sued the city, saying that a Virginia law prohibits removal of the statues.

“A lot of people have worked hard for Aug. 12 not to feel like every day of our lives,” said Seth Wispelwey, a local minister who helped form Congregate Charlottesville, a faith-based group formed in advance of a Ku Klux Klan rally and the Unite the Right rally here last summer. “This trial acutely and minutely relived that weekend, so that has been very difficult for many folks.”

Though Fields’s trial has been the most extensively covered, there are more trials and lawsuits to come, including one against Jason Kessler, a city resident and one of the rally’s organizers. And the fate of the two Confederate statues — the original spark for the violence of 2017 — is scheduled to be decided in a court here in January

Paul Duggan contributed to this report.

Washington Post

The man who groomed and murdered Blackpool girl Paige Chivers has been given a further jail term for subjecting two young children to a catalogue of vile physical and sexual abuse more than a decade before killing the vulnerable teen.

Robert Ewing, 66, was jailed for life in 2015 for the 2007 murder of 15-year-old Paige, whom he had exploited sexually.

Robert Ewing and Paige Chivers

Robert Ewing and Paige Chivers

It has since emerged that he terrorised a young girl and boy in the early 1990s, with one of the children as young as five.

He was given 15 years in jail after being found guilty of the latest offences at Preston Crown Court – but the court heard due to his ongoing 32-year sentence he is not eligible for parole until he is aged 92.

Judge Philip Parry said Ewing could appear “charming and beguiling” to other adults.

But he told the killer: “Behind closed doors with children you were a brutal, perverted and sadistic bully.

“Many would describe you as evil incarnate. You are in judgement a modern day monster.”

He said Ewing made the girl’s life “an utter misery” while treating the boy “like a play thing”.

The court heard he subjected the little boy to physical abuse by tying him up, throwing urine at him, defecating on his bed, throwing him around, dragging him by his hair and hitting him with a back scratcher.

He was found guilty of two counts of indecently assaulting the boy, and a count of child cruelty towards each of the children.

Some jurors were visibly distressed as they were then told he was responsible for Paige’s murder and other offences.

Ewing, wearing a bottle green jumper, sat with his arms folded gave no reaction as the girl, now a grown woman, stood in the witness box to tell the court how his depraved behaviour affected her.

She said: “He tried to rid me of my pride, my dignity, and my identity.

“He became a permanent image in my mind. I saw him all the time. I would wake up and I couldn’t breathe.”

She said she needed years of therapy to deal with the effects of her abuse, adding: “Now I know I can walk away from all of this and be free.”

The boy, in a statement, said: “I really believed when he made threats to kill me I thought he would do it.

“I was made to feel I must have been so naughty that Robert Ewing was punishing me for what I had done.”

The court previously heard how the child killer forced the girl to watch while he tortured the boy, who was just seven or eight-years-old at the time.

He would subject her to cold baths and would force her head under the water until she couldn’t breathe.

The girl, who was aged as young as nine, was frequently woken at night and made to crawl around and pick up fluff from the carpet.

The boy was also made to stand naked on a chair while Ewing watched him, and he would sexually assault him.

Previously prosecutor Robert Dudley told the jury: “He would be told that was what he got for being a dirty, disgusting thing.”

The court heard the boy’s headmaster raised concerns about rope burns on the boy’s wrists – caused by Ewing – but he was “too scared to tell the truth” and blamed them on another child.

A later police investigation saw Ewing convicted of two counts of gross indecency and one count of indecent assault at Wolverhampton Crown Court in 1995.

In 2007, Ewing, formerly of Kincraig Place, Bispham, was convicted of murdering Paige Chivers, who was last seen on August 23, 2007, at a bus stop in Ashfield Road, Bispham.

The 15-year-old’s body has never been found but Ewing was convicted of killing her in his flat after bloodstains were found.

He was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

During a search of Ewing’s flat in All Hallows Road, Bispham, police officers found a hoard of cuttings about the case and about the murder.

Blackpool Gazette.

A WELL-known hard man has been jailed after being convicted of an offence relating to the ride-by shooting of a nightclub bouncer.

John Henry Sayers was given a three-and-a-half-year sentence at the Old Bailey on Friday after being convicted of perverting the course of justice, a court official said.

During the trial, jurors were told the defendant was “a man to be feared” who had “acquired and promoted a reputation” and would not allow his name to be disrespected.

He had initially been accused of ordering the attack on doorman Matthew McCauley outside the Tup Tup Palace on June 6 2015, but was found not guilty of conspiracy to murder, alongside co-defendant Michael Dixon, 50. Both men are from Walker, Newcastle.

Prosecutor Simon Denison QC had claimed Sayers ordered the attack after his son was turned away from the Newcastle nightclub weeks earlier, but this was rejected by the jury.

The 54-year-old was also cleared of conspiracy to possess a shotgun with intent to endanger life, while Dixon was found guilty of the same offence and given a life sentence with a minimum of eight years, the court official said.

Sayers and a third defendant, Michael McDougall, 50, were convicted of perverting the course of justice over a false statement given in 2017.

Convicted murderer McDougall, who is serving a life sentence, told “a pack of lies” by trying to claim he was the gunman in the incident, jurors heard.

As a result, he was given two years to run consecutively after his current life sentence

Sayers had previously been cleared of ordering another murder – the doorstep shooting of a man in 2000 – and subsequently cleared of nobbling the Leeds jury in that case.

However, he is a convicted robber and tax evader and is said to be a name to be feared in Tyneside.

Northern Echo

Details of the murder conviction can be found here.

Michael McDougall.

Michael McDougall.

A killer who murdered a takeaway boss has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice after claiming to be a gunman responsible for a nightclub shooting.

Michael McDougall, 50, previously of Hylton Avenue, Marsden, South Shields and now an inmate of HMP Wakefield, has been found guilty of the charge following a trial at the Old Bailey in London.

The offence relates to a drive-by shooting outside Tup Tup Palace in Newcastle, on June 6, 2015.

A 24-year-old doorman was shot in the arm when a gunman on a motorbike opened fire using a sawn-off shotgun.

McDougall was jailed for a life sentence of 34 years in April 2016 after he was found guilty of shooting Sunderland dad-of-two Tipu Sultan.

The 32-year-old businessman had run the Herbs & Spice Kitchen takeaway in Lake Avenue, Marsden, South Shields, with his family.

McDougall was also found guilty of two charges of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

His co-accused Michael Mullen, 24, of Hawthorne Avenue, Cleadon Park, South Shields, who had taken McDougall to and from the murder scene on the back of a motorbike, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

He was jailed for 12 years.

Just weeks after he was jailed McDougall launched an appeal against his conviction, which was denied by a judge.

Today, McDougall was found guilty of perverting the justice over a false statement made in 2017 as part of the inquiry into the Tup Tup incident.

The court heard the convicted murderer told “a pack of lies” by trying to claim he was the gunman, jurors heard.

He was jointly charged and stood trial alongside John Henry Sayers, 54, of Fossway, Walker, Newcastle, and Michael Dixon, 50, of no fixed address, who were accused of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to possess a firearm.

Sayers, a well-known hard man, has been cleared of ordering the ride-by shooting of a bouncer because his son had been thrown out of a nightclub, but has been told he still faces a prison term for perverting the course of justice.

The court heard doorman Matthew McCauley was lucky to survive the shooting, which also left two other members of staff injured.

Sayers was accused of ordering Dixon to carry out the shooting after his son was ejected from the club weeks before.

An Old Bailey jury deliberated for more than 30 hours to find Sayers and Dixon, both from Walker in Newcastle, not guilty of conspiracy to murder.

The pair gave audible sighs of relief in the dock as they were cleared of the offence.

Sayers was also acquitted of conspiring to possess a shotgun with intent to endanger life, while Dixon was found guilty by a majority of 11 to one.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC told serving prisoner Dixon he would take into account that he had already been convicted of another offence committed around the same time.

A fourth defendant – Russell Sturman, 26, from Gosforth, Newcastle – hugged his co-accused in the dock after being cleared of assisting an offender.

Before the trial started, there had been an unsuccessful application by the prosecution to try the case without a jury and it was held well away from Sayers’ home turf in the North East.

Sayers had already been cleared of ordering another murder – the doorstep shooting of a man in 2000 – and subsequently cleared of nobbling the Leeds jury in that case.

However, he is a convicted armed robber and tax-evader and said to be a name to be feared on Tyneside.

Sayers’ son had been thrown out of the trendy Tup Tup Palace and was punched by a doorman weeks earlier.

Prosecutor Simon Denison QC said Sayers had “acquired and promoted a reputation”, and he wouldn’t allow his name to be “disrespected”.

Sayers’ reputation “as a man to be feared” meant “doors are opened for his family”, he added.

“Of course, that only lasts as long as the reputation is believed to be justified – which means that if his family is disrespected, violence has to follow.”

The family was given free entry to clubs without having to queue and free access to VIP areas “just to avoid serious trouble”.

The convicted defendants were remanded into custody to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday, September 21.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “This case was thoroughly investigated by a team of dedicated detectives.

“The evidence was subjected to careful scrutiny before a decision was taken to charge and it was only right that this evidence was put in front of a jury.

“We respect the decision the jury has made.”

Sunderland Echo

Michael McDougall was convicted of murder in 2016 and details of that murder can be found here

His killers have been jailed for life with minimum terms totalling 34 years

The family of murdered Andrew Groves made a loving tribute to him on the day his killers were jailed.

Russell Oakey and Michael Dommett both received life terms today (July 26). Oakey, 42 and of Hanham High Street, was convicted by a jury and Dommett, 38 and of Oakhanger Drive, entered a guilty plea part way through a trial.

Bristol Crown Court heard 47-year-old Mr Groves sustained a brutal beating in a house in Oakhanger Drive, Lawrence Weston, which was then set on fire.

 Michael Dommett (left) and Russell Oakey. Both have been jailed for life for murdering Bristol dad Andrew Groves. (Image: Avon and Somerset Constabulary)

Michael Dommett (left) and Russell Oakey. Both have been jailed for life for murdering Bristol dad Andrew Groves. (Image: Avon and Somerset Constabulary)

‘A devoted family man’

As the case concluded Mr Groves’ family said: “The sentence these two men will get will be never enough for us as a family. For we will never see our dear Andrew again.

“Andrew was a kind and loving son, a truly beautiful person, and was loved by so many people.

“He was a hard-working and devoted family man and his sudden death has been devastating to his wife, his son Lewis and daughter Molly.”

The family also thanked the emergency services who first attended the scene, and made desperate attempts to revive Mr Groves.

The statement adds: “We would also like to say thank you to Avon and Somerset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, who had over 70 people working on the investigation.

“Without them and their hard work and professionalism we would not be here today.

“We would also like to say a very special thank you to three amazing people who have given us their support, compassion and help during this very difficult time – DC Hilary Bolland, DC Carol Doxsey and Krissy of Victim Support.

“Once again thank you to you all.”

‘Daddy’s girl’

The court today heard statements from Mr Groves’ family.

Mr Groves’ daughter Molly was 17 when her dad was murdered. She said she was a “daddy’s girl”, her dad was very affectionate and would help his children with their homework.

She said: “Dad was always really proud of me and my brother.”

She remembered going to the cinema with her dad, with his large Coke and nachos, looking happy. When her dad died she felt scared and didn’t know what to do, she said.

She thought Mike Dommett had been her dad’s friend, and she couldn’t understand why anyone would want to hurt him.

She found life after the killing very difficult, she said, but wanted to attend court for the trial to hear what happened and listened to awful things. She described her dad as a family man who was always smiling.

Andrew’s father Barry said Andrew was born at Southmead Hospital and when he saw him for the first time he was the most beautiful baby he had ever seen. He last saw him four days before he was murdered and he was his “usual, cheerful self”.

When Mr Groves was told of a murder inquiry regarding his son he thought: “Why would anyone kill my son? He’s never had an enemy in my life.”

He said he had to identify him at a mortuary and even though he had sustained horrendous injuries he was still his beautiful son.

He said: “That day my life, and that of Andrew’s family and friends, changed for ever.”

Mr Groves said the sadness would live with his family for ever.

The deceased would always do anything for his children, he said, and they missed their loving, generous and hard-working dad.

He said: “I’m devastated I will never see my beautiful son again. I hope those found guilty of his murder get the maximum the court can give.”

Mr Groves son wanted him as best man

Andrew Groves’ son Lewis was 25 when he learned of the death of his dad.

Today the court heard how he went to his dad’s home and found police at the scene. He said his dad was his best friend and they had a very special relationship. He said his dad would have been his best man at his wedding but he never got the chance to ask him. Since the murder he has felt so much negativity, he said.

He said he found it hard to look at motorbikes, knowing how much his dad liked them. He said the intention to set light to his dad was hard to hear

‘We are the ones serving a life sentence’

Louise Groves, Andrew’s former wife, said Andrew was kind, happy and had the biggest heart. She said his life was his family and loved nothing more than family trips and celebrations. He wanted nothing more than his children to be happy, she said.

She said: “No-one deserves the pure evil inflicted on him. No punishment will ever be enough. We are the ones serving a life sentence.”

Police statement – pair ‘concocted a series of lies’

Senior Investigating Officer DI Lorna Dallimore said: “These convictions are the result of a detailed and painstaking investigation by officers and police staff.

“Andrew Groves was subjected to a truly horrific ordeal inside the house in Oakhanger Drive, with a fire deliberately started in an attempt to conceal evidence.

“We were able to prove Michael Dommett, who had taken on the tenancy of this property from his late father, and Russell Oakey were solely responsible for Andrew’s death.

“They concocted a series of lies to distance themselves from the scene of the crime and claimed they’d left Andrew at the property asleep.

“Through a combination of forensic and DNA evidence, analysis of telephone data and ANPR cameras, we were able to expose these lies and prove they were responsible for Andrew’s murder.

“I’d like to thank Andrew’s family for their support of our investigation and I hope these convictions will help them move forward with their lives.”

Bristol Post

Prosecutor said ex-Royal Marine had probably placed his wife Anna in a choke hold that he had knowledge of from his military training

SS 2

Searle with Nigel Farage

A former UKIP councillor who strangled his wife has been sentenced to life in prison.

Ex-Royal Marine Stephen Searle claimed his wife Anna had attacked him with a knife at their home in Suffolk some months after she discovered he had an affair with their son’s partner.

The 64-year-old said he acted in self-defence but jurors at Ipswich Crown Court took just over three hours to find him guilty of murder.

Jailing Searle for life with a minimum term of 14 years, the Honourable Mr Justice Green, said: “Your actions have caused devastating waves of pain and anguish to crash through your entire family.”

Searle, who had been married for 45 years, looked straight ahead and showed no reaction as his fate was read out.

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said Searle had probably placed his wife in a choke hold that he had knowledge of from his military training.

He told the six-day trial that the Searles’ marriage had been under strain since Ms Searle, 62, discovered her husband’s affair with their son Gary’s partner, Anastasia Pomiateeva, who was mother to at least one of their grandchildren, around June 2017.

In a 999 call made on 30 December last year and played to jurors, Searle told police: “I’ve just killed my wife.”

He told the court he had not tried to call an ambulance and had “just sat there like a bloody idiot”.

Officers attended their home in Stowmarket within minutes of the call made at 10.19pm, where they found Ms Searle dead.

In bodycam footage recorded by the arresting officers, Searle is heard to say “I’ve been a very naughty boy” and “everyone has their breaking point”.

Mr Jackson said there had “probably been yet another row between the two of them and in anger the defendant strangled his wife to death”.

A post-mortem examination recorded that Ms Searle died of compression of the neck.

Forensic pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift said Ms Searle would have lost consciousness after about eight to 15 seconds of pressure being applied to her neck, and death required further sustained pressure for a period of minutes.

In a victim impact statement one of Searle’s three sons, Stevie Searle, said: “Not only have I lost my mum, but because of what he’s done I’ve lost my dad too.”

The Independent

Searle with Nigel Farage

A former UKIP councillor has been found guilty of murdering his wife, after he had an affair with their son’s partner.

Stephen Searle, 64, strangled his wife Anne to death at their home in Stowmarket, Suffolk, on 30 December.

The ex-Royal Marine had denied killing Mrs Searle, 62, after she found out about the affair with Anastasia Pomiateeva.

He was found guilty by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court and will be sentenced at a later date.

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson previously told the court Searle had probably placed his wife in a choke hold he had knowledge of from his military training.

Searle showed no reaction as the verdict was read out following a six-day trial.

Anne Searle was found dead at the couple's home on 30 December

Anne Searle was found dead at the couple’s home on 30 December

He had previously told a jury his wife had uncovered his affair with Ms Pomiateeva, who is the mother to at least one of their grandchildren, months before she died.

Searle claimed that on the day of her death, his wife of 45 years had attacked him with a knife following an argument and was killed in the struggle that ensued.

He had told the court he did not intend to murder her, failed to call an ambulance after the attack and instead “sat there like a bloody idiot”.

But in a 999 call that was played to jurors, Searle could be heard telling police: “I’ve just killed my wife.”

It took the jury three-and-a-half hours to find him guilty of murder.

‘Considerable strain

Mr Jackson, prosecuting, told the court the discovery of the affair “would have put considerable strain on the marriage”.

A post-mortem examination recorded that Mrs Searle died of compression of the neck.

Forensic pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift said she would have lost consciousness after about eight to 15 seconds of pressure being applied to her neck, and death required further sustained pressure for a period of minutes.

Days before her death, Mrs Searle had posted a message on Facebook which said: “Happy Christmas… I hope I will still be here in 2018. We will see.”

BBC News

After a five-year trial, a member of a neo-Nazi gang has been found guilty of 10 racially-motivated murders.

Beate Zschäpe was at the centre of one of the longest trials in modern German history

Beate Zschäpe was at the centre of one of the longest trials in modern German history

Beate Zschäpe was the main defendant on trial over the murder of eight ethnic Turks, a Greek citizen and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007.

The verdict carries an automatic life sentence.

The connection between the murders was only discovered by chance in 2011, after a botched robbery led to the neo-Nazi group’s discovery.

Zschäpe shared a flat in the eastern town of Zwickau with two men, who died in an apparent suicide pact. The bodies of Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt were found in a burnt-out caravan used in the robbery.

Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt had formed a cell called the National Socialist Underground (NSU). An explosion at their home – apparently in an attempt to destroy evidence – led to Zschäpe turning herself in.

The NSU’s seven-year campaign exposed serious shortcomings in the German state’s monitoring of neo-Nazis, and led to a public inquiry into how German police failed to discover the murder plot.

Four other defendants were also given jail terms for their role in helping the NSU gang:

Ralf Wohlleben, a former official of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), was sentenced to 10 years for procuring the Ceska pistol with silencer used in nine murders. He was convicted of aiding and abetting murder.

Carsten S was given three years of juvenile detention. He is believed to have been a key contact for the Zwickau cell during their secret life, and was found guilty of handing the gang the Ceska pistol and silencer

André E was given two years and six months for helping a terrorist group. He had visited the Zwickau trio often, sometimes with his children, helping to give the neo-Nazis an air of normality.

Holger G received three years for giving his birth certificate and other ID to Uwe Mundlos, to protect him from the police.
BBC News

Bret Atkins and Jamie Snow smirked as their jail sentences were increased for the race-hate campaign they orchestrated from inside a top security jail

Bret Atkins, 24, and Jamie Snow, 27, sent crude explosive devices from the segregation unit of Full Sutton prison, near York and sent them to law firms in Halifax and Nottingham Photo: PA

Bret Atkins, 24, and Jamie Snow, 27, sent crude explosive devices from the segregation unit of Full Sutton prison, near York and sent them to law firms in Halifax and Nottingham Photo: PA



A murderer and a robber who sent crude explosive devices from the segregation unit of a top security jail to Asian solicitors as part of a race-hate campaign have had their prison sentences increased.

Bret Atkins, 24, and Jamie Snow, 27, smirked and laughed as a judge at Leeds Crown Court was told how they constructed basic incendiary devices made from crushed match heads in their cells at Full Sutton prison, near York, and sent them to law firms in Halifax and Nottingham.

Despite Atkins and Snow appearing by videolink from different prisons – Whitemoor and Wakefield – the two managed to exchange smiles with each other as details of their racist messages were read to the court.

Atkins – who is serving a life term with a minimum term of 20 years for murdering a man in Hull in 2009 – grinned even though his barrister told the judge he had converted to Islam since arriving at Whitemoor.

Judge Rodney Jameson handed down a seven year prison sentence to Atkins, who was found guilty by a jury earlier this year of conspiracy to send an explosive substance with intent to burn.

The judge ordered this to start 18 months before the end of his current 20 year minimum term and said this would have the effect of increasing the minimum term of his life sentence to 22 years.

Snow, who is originally from Leeds, was serving an eight-and-a-half year sentence for robbery, attempted robbery and possessing a firearm with intent when he sent the letters.

He was given an extended sentence of six years and three months after admitting offences of sending an explosive substance with intent to burn and making threats to kill. The judge said the extended part of the sentence meant he will be on licence five years after he is released.

Atkins admitted murdering 35-year-old Simon Ash in Hull in 2009.

A judge at the time said he and another man had ”callously and cold-bloodedly” killed Mr Ash, who was walking alone.

They kicked him and stamped on his head so hard that an imprint of Atkins’s shoe was left on his face.

Devices were sent by the pair but, the court heard, they were intercepted before they reached their intended targets.

The judge was told that both men had a “shared racial hatred” of Asian people and had threatened to kill Asian prisoners, attack the imam at Full Sutton and burn down mosques.

As well as the incendiary devices, Snow sent threatening letters to solicitors – one including an illustration of how to make a bomb using a light bulb.

Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, said Snow wrote a letter to a probation officer referring to Asian people as “dirty disgusting vermin”.

Prison officers intercepted a letter sent to Rahman Ravelli solicitors in Halifax from Snow in November 2012 and found a device inside made from crushed match heads and a striking device attacked to the opening flap.

When confronted about it, Snow said “two out of three is not bad”, according to Mr Sandiford.

The prosecutor said he was “claiming he’d already sent another two”.

Mr Sandiford said Snow sent a threatening letter to another law firm, signing it “your neighbourhood Muslim-killer”.

He said prison officers heard Atkins bragging in phone calls that he and Snow were vying to kill the prison imam, saying: “Me and Snowy have got a deal – whoever gets to him first can have an ounce of amber leaf (tobacco).”

The court heard Atkins sent a letter to Carrington’s Solicitors, in Nottingham, containing another incendiary device but it was intercepted.

The message included the sign-off: “Ha, ha, ha, boom. I’ve got my eyes on you.”

Mr Sandiford said the pair also conducted a dirty protect in the segregation wing of Full Sutton when they daubed threats against Muslims on the walls of their cells in excrement.

But Philippa Eastwood, defending Atkins, said: “He had converted to Islam since he has been at HMP Whitemoor and has been a practising Muslim in the time since he had been there.”

Snow – through his barrister Richard Simons – tried to get the judge to increase his sentence to more than seven years so he could get access to a mental health course in prison to address his personality disorder and other potential psychiatric problems.

But Judge Jameson said he could not take this unusual course.

The judge told the pair it was unlikely the devices they made would have caused any more injury than burns to the hands of anyone who opened them.

But he said they “exercised considerable ingenuity in making these potentially dangerous devices out of the materials at your disposal”.

The judge said: “In both cases, you sent improvised incendiary devices by the mail, or submitted them to be sent by mail, to Asian solicitors in the north of England.

“No injury was caused by any device that you sent. It is difficult to know the extent of the distress that you caused.”

After the hearing, Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Wilson of the north east counter-terrorism unit said: “Bret Atkins and Jamie Snow waged a campaign of hate against innocent people, choosing victims purely on the grounds of their race or religion. They expressed deeply racist and anti-Muslim views and sent a series of threatening letters, designed to instil fear in their recipients.

“Snow and Atkins took their hatred beyond threats to kill and even tried to post explosive materials in an attempt to cause harm or injury. Thankfully this mail was intercepted by vigilant officers within the prison service and was never able to enter the postal system.

“Snow and Atkins may already be in prison, but they will still be held accountable. We will continue to work with the prison service to respond to racially-aggravated incidents and punish those who seek to threaten the safety and confidence of our communities.”

Marcella Goligher, governor of Full Sutton Prison, said: “We are committed to the prevention of crime and are proud of the work our vigilant and highly-skilled members of staff do to detect it.

“These convictions have been secured as a result of strong partnerships, and we will continue to work with the police and the CPS to ensure prisoners who break the law are prosecuted.”

Daily Telegraph

From Sept 2014