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A FAR-right supporter who set fire to Newport’s Masonic Lodge and Bassaleg secondary school, and daubed swastikas and racist slogans on buildings across the city, has been jailed for a total of six years.

Austin Ross, 23, carried out the two arson attacks and his spree of hate-fuelled criminal damage during May this year.

The Riverfront Theatre, Maindee primary school, Gwent Probation Service’s Lower Dock Street offices, and the Bethel Community Church were among his other targets.

Ross, of Romney Close, St Julians, Newport, carried out the attacks, said Judge Jeremy Jenkins, “out of sheer hatred and malice”, based on a “perverted view of race and religion”.

Ross pleaded guilty last month to 15 charges, including two of arson.

He began by sticking a racially offensive poster,, and spray painting a swastika, on a window at the Riverfront Theatre in Newport, between May 2 and May 5.

The poster, along with several others Ross subsequently stuck to buildings in Newport, referenced the neo-Nazi System Resistance Network (SRN).

On May 4, the Bethel Community Church was targeted with posters and swastikas, as was Maindee primary school, where parents removed posters and handed them in to the school.

The school was targeted again on May 8 and May 25, but Ross had in the interim stuck posters and daubed swastikas on a wall at the Newport Centre.

Between May 25-30 he targeted the Gwent Probation Service building on Lower Dock Street with a spray painted far right message.

And on May 28, racist graffiti and a swastika were daubed on a wall at the University of South Wales campus on Usk Way.

Ross’ criminal activities then took an even more sinister turn.

On the night of May 28 he posted a flammable liquid through the letterbox at the Masonic Lodge in Lower Dock Street and set fire to it – an act caught on CCTV – causing £38,000 of damage.

And on the same night he caused around £20,000 of damage to a classroom at Bassaleg School after setting fire to a window blind.

Both buildings were also daubed with racist graffiti.

Police issued CCTV images of a man clad in black clothing, to try to track down the perpetrator.

Acting on a tip-off, they arrested Ross at an address in Grosvenor Road, Bassaleg, on June 5.

The Bassaleg and the Romney Close addresses were searched, and items found included cardboard swastika stencils and neo-Nazi posters.

Defence counsel Harry Baker said several references submitted on behalf of Ross showed “a different side” to him.

But sentencing him, Judge Jenkins was scathing of Ross’ crimes.

“You daubed swastikas and other highly offensive literature on schools, a church, a theatre, a footbridge and other buildings,” he said.

“You deliberately set fire to the Masonic Lodge and Bassaleg secondary school.

“Your actions were not born of some mental disorder, but out of hatred and malice based upon your perverted view of race and religion, and others dissimilar to yourself.

“That, in a civilised society is as abhorrent as it is impossible to comprehend.”

Ross was sentenced to three years in prison on each arson charge, to run consecutively.

He was also sentenced to six months on each of 13 charges of racially aggravated criminal damage. These will run concurrently to the arson sentences.

Speaking after the senetencing hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Nicholas Wilkie, of Gwent Police, said: “The offences committed by Ross in Newport in May of this year were very serious, and understandably resulted in concern and distress throughout our community.

“There is no place for hate crime in Gwent, and we will continue to take a zero tolerance approach to this type of offending.

“We are committed to ensuring our neighbourhoods are welcoming and safe places for everyone, and any crime motivated by racial, sexual, or any other prejudice, will be investigated thoroughly and any offender dealt with robustly.

“We would encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed an incident or crime that they perceive to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, to report to us directly on 101 or 999, online at http://www.report-it.org or through Victim Support on 0300 30 31 982.”

Cerys Beresford-Evans of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Ross spread his racist messages around Newport by causing damage and destruction to buildings.

“Hate crime has no place in a civilised society and has a devastating impact on not only individuals, but on communities.

“The CPS will continue to work with our partners in the criminal justice system to address all forms of hate crime.”

South Wales Argus

Sean Gorman, 18, had pleaded guilty to racially aggravated stabbing of Syrian Shabaz Ali

A teenager has been sentenced to seven years and nine months in detention for the racially aggravated attempted murder of a Syrian refugee.

Sean Gorman, 18, previously pleaded guilty to attacking Shabaz Ali, 25, a refugee. He repeatedly stabbed Ali in the chest and stomach during an argument about noise levels in a privately owned homeless hostel in Edinburgh in May.

Passing sentence at the high court in Edinburgh, the judge, Lord Woolman, told Gorman the attack had caused his victim serious physical and psychological harm.

“He cannot work. He can only take short walks with the aid of a walking stick. He awaits further surgery.”

The incident took place at a ground-floor hostel used by Edinburgh council near the Tollcross area of the city. It is thought Ali intervened in a row involving his female cousin, who was also based at the hostel, and a group of people including Gorman, who was then 17.

Gorman also pleaded guilty to the racially aggravated alarm of a woman, thought to be Ali’s cousin. Ali’s father claimed he could hear his son’s attackers shout: “Why are you still here? Why are you not back in your own country?”

The family came from Kobanî in northern Syria, and had been living in Scotland for five years. At the time of the attack, Ali was working as a barber in the Portobello area of Edinburgh and staying in a hostel as he looked for a new home.

Campaigners with Positive Action in Housing (PAIH), a Glasgow-based charity that launched a fundraising campaign for the family, said at the time of the attack that it had heard numerous reports of refugee families in Midlothian near Edinburgh suffering racist abuse and stone-throwing incidents, as well as instances in other parts of Scotland.

Following the sentencing, DCI Paul Grainger of Police Scotland said: “Gorman used appalling racist language before perpetrating significant violence against the victim, who was left fighting for his life.

“I cannot condemn the circumstances of this case strongly enough. Edinburgh thrives on diversity and Gorman’s actions do not in any way reflect the values of our city.

“Significant support has been shown across the capital for the victim and his family, which is far more representative of the strength of inclusivity across our communities.”

Issuing a statement on behalf of Ali’s father, Sivan, the solicitor Aamer Anwar said: “Shabaz’s father welcomes the significant sentence imposed today by Lord Woolman and the message sent out to violent racists like Sean Gorman.”

Describing Shabaz as “a hardworking, peaceful young man who tried to rebuild his life after Syria”, the statement also repeated allegations that, days before the attack, the victim had told Edinburgh council that he felt unsafe in his temporary accommodation “but his pleas for help were ignored”. The council has insisted it takes the safety of hostel residents “very seriously”.

The Guardian

Welsh man Jonathan Jennings handed 16-month prison sentence for Islamophobic and threatening posts

Jonathan Jennings pled guilty to 10 offences

Jonathan Jennings pled guilty to 10 offences

A man who posted anti-Muslim messages on social media and made a threat to kill Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been jailed for 16 months.

Jonathan Jennings used platforms such as YouTube and GAB – billed as the “free speech” social network – to make Islamophobic statements inciting religious hatred.

Prosecutors revealed the 34-year-old man from Carmarthenshire had written posts calling for all Muslims to be gassed and to be forcibly sterilised. He claimed those who tried to convert others to Islam should be sentenced to death.

He repeatedly called for the murder of Muslims and supported “bomb a mosque day” suggested by another extremist, Nigel Pelham, who was jailed last year.

Sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on Thursday, Jennings pled guilty to four offences of inciting racial hatred and another six offences related to the sending of material with the intention of causing distress and anxiety.

The Crown Prosecution Service today said his jail sentence “reflects the seriousness of his crimes.”

Between March and August last year, Jennings also posted a series of threatening messages about left-leaning public figures and one about the Jewish community, alongside his diatribes about British Muslims.

In March 2017 he called Gina Miller – the prominent lawyer who led a legal challenge against Brexit – a traitor and called for her to be executed.

A few months later he said if Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister he would be first in line to “Jo Cox him” – a reference to the murder of the Labour MP by a right-wing extremist back in June 2016.

Another message stated that Hitler was born a 100 years too soon. He went on to threaten the Jewish community, saying if they did not behave themselves they would share the same fate as Muslims.

Deb Walsh from the CPS said: “Jonathan Jennings’ hatred of Muslims led him to post online messages stirring up animosity towards a whole community.

“He did not limit himself to expressing his views but called on others to indiscriminately kill Muslims and bomb mosques. Jennings also targeted the Jewish community and called for public figures whose views he did not like to be executed.

“The prison sentence reflects the seriousness of his crimes.”

Detective Superintendent Jim Hall of the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit said: “We are committed to tackling all forms of extremism which has the potential to threaten public safety and security.

“Such was the strength of evidence of Jennings’ activities that he entered guilty pleas to all of the offences.

“There have been a number of successful prosecutions over recent years and this is testament to the work of police teams up and down the country.”

DS Jim Hall hailed the help of the public in identifying incitement of racial hatred and other forms of extremism.

“Nobody is better placed to detect something that is out of place in their communities than the people living in them,” he said. “To effectively combat the terrorism threat the police, businesses, government and the general public need to work together.”

“Anyone who sees or hears something that could be terrorist-related should act on their instincts and call the police in confidence on 0800 789 321.”

The Independent

A 34 year-old man from Brynaman has appeared before Swansea Crown Court after entering guilty pleas to six offences under Section One Malicious Communications Act and four offences of Inciting Racial Hatred under the Public Order Act.

Jonathan Jennings called for Muslims to be sterilised, gassed, or killed on sight

Jonathan Jennings called for Muslims to be sterilised, gassed, or killed on sight

Jonathan Jennings used social media platforms such as GAB and YouTube to post anti-muslim and anti-government messages and often targeted prominent left-leaning politicians and individuals, frequently referring to murdered MP Jo Cox in his on-line posts.

Jennings was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Speaking after sentencing, Detective Superintendent Jim Hall of the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit said: “We are committed to tackling all forms of extremism which has the potential to threaten public safety and security. Such was the strength of evidence of Jennings’ activities that he entered guilty pleas to all of the offences.

“There have been a number of successful prosecutions over recent years and this is testament to the work of police teams up and down the country.

“Nobody is better placed to detect something that is out of place in their communities than the people living in them. To effectively combat the terrorism threat the police, businesses, government and the general public need to work together.

“Anyone who sees or hears something that could be terrorist-related should act on their instincts and call the police in confidence on 0800 789 321.

Visit gov.uk/ACT for more information, including how to report extremist or terrorist content that is online.

South Wales Guardian

Sirrs was jailed for more than 12 years for his part in horrific racist attacks on Middle Eastern immigrants in Hull

Drug dealer Christopher Sirrs has this week been orders to pay back £3,000 from his ill-gotten gains – but he hides a shocking racist past.

Sirrs, 44, was one of two racist ringleaders who led a violent neo-Nazi campaign against asylum-seekers in Hull 14 years ago.

Sirrs was handed a 14-and-a-half year sentence which was cut to 12-and-a-half years on appeal, while his thug cohort Ben Povey was handed a 19-year sentence reduced to 15 years on appeal.

Bloodthirsty guttersnipes

During sentence, the judge at the time described them as “bloodthirsty guttersnipes”.

Povey and Sirrs mowed down an Iraqi asylum-seeker, sending him flying into the air “like a rag doll” and shattering his leg in three places. Later Povey, when asked about the attack, said to his girlfriend: “They should all die.”

Mugshots of Christopher Sirrs (left) and Ben Povey who was jailed in 2004 for racial violence

Mugshots of Christopher Sirrs (left) and Ben Povey who was jailed in 2004 for racial violence

It was just one of a serious of violent scenes which brought Hull’s racial tensions to melting point in the searing heat of July 2004.

Gang warfare

The city had become a battleground as gangs clashed in the streets, brandishing lead pipes, baseball bats, Samurai swords and planks of wood studded with nails. Cars were set alight with petrol bombs.

Judge Tom Cracknell said at the time the men were sentenced: “I regard Sirrs and Povey as very dangerous young men. They have not shown one moment of remorse about their conduct.”

Christopher Sirrs

Christopher Sirrs

The pair had joined the Hull Cruise Club – a group which spent its evenings driving souped-up cars around the streets.

Sirrs, then 30, was adept at manipulating younger members of a club which until then was described by police as a “nuisance rather than a menace”.

Thug who thinks he has a brain

Detective Inspector Mark Smith, the officer in charge, speaking after the men were sentenced said: “Sirrs is just a thug who thinks he has a brain.

“He likes to have people around him, likes to have muscle, and he seems to command respect among this element. [He] wouldn’t think twice about just petrol-bombing your house or car.”

Trouble flared in 2004 when a group of immigrants began driving their cars around the same area as the club. A minor clash led to a series of battles with cars being rammed or smashed up with baseball bats.

In mid-July Povey smashed the windscreen of a Vauxhall car driven by immigrants while Sirrs threw a petrol bomb at the vehicle. They pursued it with Povey swinging a Samurai sword from the open sunroof.

Mowed down

A few days later, two immigrants made the mistake of parking their car in the area before going out to a nightclub.

They returned in the early hours to be met by a gang hurling racist abuse because they believed they were among a group of Kosovans who had damaged the club’s cars.

One was hit with a baseball bat and the two fled up the street, with Sirrs and Povey in pursuit.

The car being driven by Sirrs, with Povey as passenger, crossed the central reservation and ploughed into the other man, sending him flying into the air, before driving off. Other members of the gang stayed to abuse the Iraqi with racist taunts as he lay there injured and in pain.

The attack led to further tension as members of the local immigrant community clashed violently with the gang members.

Witness intimidation

Sirrs and Povey had also tried to intimidate witnesses. Povey fire-bombed a car belonging to the family of a witness while both telephoned him to get him to change his statement.

Povey was convicted of causing Mr Mohammed grievous bodily harm with intent by a jury at Hull Crown Court. He was also jailed for making petrol bombs, intimidating witnesses, arson, violent disorder and possession of an offensive weapon.

Sirrs was jailed for grievous bodily harm, which he admitted, and convicted of possession of a Samurai sword and nail-embedded pickaxe handle, making an explosive substance, violent disorder and perverting the course of justice.

Others were also jailed following that summer of madness for assaults, arson, making explosives and violent disorder.

Sirrs has continued his life of crime and is back in jail after admitting possession of amphetamine with intent to supply and possessing criminal property.

Hull Daily Mail

Scots 'Nazi dog' film maker Mark Meechan's appeal refused

Scots ‘Nazi dog’ film maker Mark Meechan’s appeal refused


A MAN who was fined after filming a pet dog giving Nazi salutes has failed in an attempt to appeal his conviction.

Mark Meechan, 30, was ordered to pay £800 after recording his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as “gas the Jews” and “Sieg Heil” by raising its paw.

He was found guilty of breaching the Communications Act by posting material that was “grossly offensive” and “anti-Semitic and racist in nature”, in an offence aggravated by religious prejudice, following a trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court in April.

Meechan, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, raised more than £193,000 through a crowdfunding page to pay for legal fees to fund an appeal against his conviction and sentence but has now revealed that it has failed at the first hurdle.

His lawyers took the case to the Sheriff Appeal Court in Edinburgh but a panel of sheriffs refused to grant leave to appeal.

The case did not make it to a full hearing as it was refused at the ‘sift’ stage where sheriffs review bids to appeal and determine whether they have any merit.

YouTube prankster Meechan, who claimed the video was a joke and that he was exercising his right to freedom of speech, has said his legal team will now refer the case to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, who review potential miscarriages of justice.

Earlier this week, he vowed to go to prison rather than pay his fine if the appeal process was unsuccessful.

In a video posted online about the appeal decision, he said: “My appeal has been completely rejected.

“Scottish appeal courts work on a sift process where you get two chances to submit your appeal and it can be rejected at that stage on the grounds that there is absolutely no hope in hell of your appeal being successful.

“Mine was rejected on both stages. Apparently what happened to me is completely inarguable.

“I believe I have suffered a miscarriage of justice and my lawyers are going to submit that to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.

“Hopefully the commission will agree and ask the appeal court to accept my appeal case.

“I never even got a hearing, I just got two rejection letters.”

He added: “I’m obviously not happy about the fact that I’m going to jail but I’m more than prepared to do it for what I believe in.

“I absolutely refuse to sacrifice my principles just so I can get an easy time under a law I shouldn’t even be getting charged under in the first place.”

The Sheriff Appeal Court confirmed Meechan’s bid to appeal had been refused last month.

The original clip was viewed more than three million times on YouTube and sparked a debate over free speech, with comedians Ricky Gervais and David Baddiel defending Meechan.

During an interview on BBC Radio Scotland on Tuesday, Meechan claimed people should be allowed to say whatever they want, no matter how offensive, and it should not be a criminal offence.

He claimed Sheriff Derek O’Carroll, who presided over his trial, was from an older generation and didn’t understand his sense of humour.

He said: “The judge was a lot older, he’s from a different generation. There are jokes you would tell your friends but you would never repeat them to your grandmother.

“He was judging it from the era of comedy that he grew up with.

“One of my main gripes with the case is I was being judged by a man who doesn’t understand my world. I think that’s what has given me the biggest bee in my bonnet with regards to the judge’s decision.”

Meechan also said that since his conviction he has been unable to find work and has been subjected to violent threats on the street.

He has said any money left over for his legal challenge will be donated to charity.

The Herald

Lois Evans and Emma Storey, were yesterday jailed for imprisoning a man and subjecting him to what a judge described as a "terrifying" ordeal, during which he was battered with a hammer

Lois Evans and Emma Storey, were yesterday jailed for imprisoning a man and subjecting him to what a judge described as a “terrifying” ordeal, during which he was battered with a hammerL



TWO women who tied up and tortured a man are behind bars for what a court heard was “horrific humiliation”.

Emma Storey filmed friend Lois Evans repeatedly batter their victim with a hammer as he begged his grinning attacker to stop.

Evans threatened to use a power drill on his kneecaps and feet, and screamed at the Islam-convert: “We don’t like Muslims over here, you know. I f***ing hate them.”

Footage of the distressing attack was shown at Teesside Crown Court where Evans, 30, was jailed for three years and four months and Storey, 35, got two years and eight months.

Evans – said by a judge to be “glorifying” in the torture of the 23-year-old – later told police she felt possessed.

At one point, she threatened to kill the man, and Storey “baulked”, saying: “I agreed to this, but not to bury a body.”

During his ordeal, the victim also had some of his hair cut out, and Polyfilla put in his mouth by Evans, who told him: “Eat this. You chat a load of s***.”

Earlier, Storey shoved a rag in his mouth to gag him, as her friend produced a range of tools to threaten him with – a saw, wrench, screwdriver and the drill as well as a golf club.

In an impact statement, the victim said: “I lay awake at night thinking about why I didn’t fight back, and how humiliated I felt and still feel.

“I would have loved to have been in the army, but this makes me feel I would be no good if I can let two girls beat me up like this.

“I am constantly paranoid about what’s going on around me and who is around me.”

The women, from Guisborough, east Cleveland, had to be separated by security guards in the dock after a fight in the cells before the case. There had also been trouble between the pair while they were on remand at Low Newton in Durham.

Storey wept in the dock as her phone footage of the attack was shown in court, while Evans watched without showing any emotion.

Storey’s lawyer, Gary Wood, told the court that the mother-of-three has had a ten-year amphetamine addiction and had been drinking with her friend on the night.

“She encouraged with words spoken and filmed this horrible incident using her mobile phone, which she accepts makes her equally guilty,” he said.

“On behalf of the defendant, I am instructed to apologise to all parties in this case, in particular the complainant for everything that transpired.”

Stephen Constantine, for mother-of-two Evans, said: “She seems to have flown completely out of her mind. She told the police that she appeared as though she was possessed.

“This is a young lady who doesn’t ordinarily behave like this. She simply snapped and did a lot of things she bitterly regrets.”

Th court heard that Evans was annoyed at continued unwanted attention from the man, visited him in the early hours of April 5 and ordered him into a car to go to Storey’s home.

The victim was said to have been frightened, but wrongly believed that Storey would stop anything happening to him, said prosecutor Emma Atkinson.

Towards the end of his ordeal on the video, he can be seen on the floor where it looks as though he is being kicked by Evans.

He managed to escape, but was still bound and had Polyfilla in his hair. He suffered extensive brushing to his arms and legs and a black eye, said Miss Atkinson

Evans, of Woodhouse Road, admitted false imprisonment, religiously-aggravated assault occasioning actual bodily harm and making threats to kill.

Storey, also of Woodhouse Road, pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Judge Deborah Sherwin told the pair: “Each of you have the capacity to be violent bullies when the need, in your eyes, arises.

“It is nothing short of miraculous that his injuries were not worse.”

Neither woman had any previous convictions, the court heard.

The judge told Evans: “It is alarming that you can behave in such a way and you have it in you to act like this.”

She told Storey: “Yours was a secondary role, but in filming it, you were encouraging and egging on Miss Evans in what she was doing.”

When Miss Atkinson was about to play the footage, she warned the court several times: “It’s distressing to watch.”

After hearing screams from the victim, a couple – believed to be the victim’s parents – left the courtroom, but later returned.

Sobbing Storey shouted from the dock: “Marie, I’m sorry.”

Judge Sherwin said: “I have seen the clips and it is quite clear he is begging you to stop, he was cowering away and was clearly terrified.”

Northern Echo