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Magistrates expressed surprise that no-one else was charged alongside Keith Edward Hall, 38, of Bath Street, Rhyl

Keith Hill

A man has been given a suspended prison sentence for a firework attack on a mosque.

Magistrates saw video footage which showed Keith Edward Hall twice approaching the Islamic Centre in Rhyl, lighting the fireworks and pushing them through the letterbox on November 11.

In the background, a man and woman could be heard laughing and shouting: “Hurry up.”

Having seen the film, Prestatyn magistrates expressed surprise that no-one else has been charged in connection with the attack.

Hall, 38, of Bath Street, Rhyl, had pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated criminal damage at the centre in Water Street.

In the footage, filmed from the doorway of the Bow Bar opposite, Hall was seen approaching the mosque twice in 20 minutes.

In a victim impact statement, Rafiq Ullah, the centre’s treasurer, said the damage could have been much greater had they not taken measures to improve fire safety after a previous incident.

He said people could easily have been injured as the prayer room was behind the door.

The incident occurred only two days before the Paris shootings, and Mr Ullah said tension at the mosque was high in that period. It eased when Hall was arrested.

When interviewed, Hall said he could remember very little about the incident because he had drunk eight litres of cider and eight shorts.

He woke up the following morning with a sore arm where part of the letterbox surround had hit him when it was blown off.

He denied being a racist and claimed to have several friends from ethnic minorities.

Alex Fitzgerald, representing Hall, said he found it “astonishing” that no-one else had been charged even though they were interviewed.

Mr Fitzgerald told the court that Hall did not even realise that the building was a mosque.

“It was not born out of a deep-seated hate of the Muslim community, but was an act of utter stupidity,” he said.

“He is embarrassed at his stupidity and wishes to apologise. Alcohol affects his thinking and his behaviour.”

Hall was given a 16-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, and must also observe a 7pm-7am curfew and attend a six-month alcohol treatment course and 25 days of rehabilitation.

He was also ordered to pay compensation of £558, costs of £300 and a surcharge of £80.

The Bench made a restraining order prohibiting him from entering Water Street for 12 months.

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Judge bans ‘hater’ of Muslims from every mosque in the country

An ex-soldier with a hatred of Muslims has been banned from every mosque in the land.

The life-long ban was imposed on John Parkin who stuffed tissue into a bottle of beer and attempted to set Rhyl mosque alight days after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

Mold Crown Court heard that Parkin had been infuriated by the murder of Mr Rigby and decided to try and burn down his local mosque after drinking 15 pints of beer.

Today he was jailed for 18 months and an indefinite criminal anti-social behaviour order (CRASBO) was made under which he must not enter the mosque at River Street in Rhyl – and from entering the curtilage of any mosque in England and Wales.

Judge Niclas Parry told Parkin, 27, of Towyn Way West, Towyn, that he was “an inherent racist” who was prepared to act as such and was a high risk of harm.

“There was a depressing inevitability that people such as you would claim that the tragic events involving Lee Rigby would be some form of justification for what are nothing less than the acts of bigots and yobs,” he said.

It was why Lee Rigby’s own family so commendably made a public appeal that it should not be used as an excuse for further violence.

Parkin’s disgraceful and sickening conduct was an affront to decent society, Judge Parry said.

“But the plain fact is that you acted as you did because you were drunk,” the judge told him.

After 15 pints, in the presence of others, he made it clear that he wanted to buy a bottle to ignite the local Islamic cultural centre “that forms part of your local community.”

The judge told him: “You purchased a bottle, you purchased tissues, you inserted the tissues into the bottle and walked into the ground of the mosque where you made persistent but unsuccessful attempts to light the tissue.”

He then walked off leaving the bottle on the wall when he saw the blue lights of the police approaching.

“On arrest you began to abuse the police about the problems of this country, accusing them of betraying this country.

“You even had the temerity to suggest your example should be followed about how people should be taught about Muslims. You are an inherent racist prepared to act as that. You are a high risk of harm to a certain part of this community.”

The judge said that the offences were aggravated by his previous convictions, which included two previous convictions for religiously or racially aggravated offences.

The same mosque had been targeted by him on one previous occasion.

He had pleaded guilty and the reality was there was no real prospect of a fire.

“But these shocking offences offend decent society which looks to the court to deter such offences,” he said.

Parkin admitted threatening to burn down the mosque and a charge of religiously aggravated disorderly behaviour on May 25.

Prosecutor David Mainstone said that night Parkin went to a Rhyl nightclub and was refused entry after telling staff: “I just need a bottle of strong alcohol to burn down the mosque.”

He moved on to a shop and bought a bottle of Corona beer.

CCTV operators had been alerted by the club’s door staff and police officers arrived when he was in the grounds of the mosque.

He was monitored on CCTV as he tried to light the tissue.

Arrested and cautioned, he asked officers: “Do you like Muslims?”

Mr Mainstone said he had made a “serious threat” to burn down the mosque and uttered anti-Muslim and inflammatory remarks.

Parkin repeatedly told police he did not like Muslims.

When he was interviewed later, Parkin said he was drunk and could not remember what he had said.

But he conceded those were the kind of things he would say because he said those were his views and he was entitled to have them.

He claimed those views extended from his experiences in the army.

Andrew Green, defending, said that it was an aggravating feature that it was a repeat of previous behaviour.

“What lies behind these offences is his use of alcohol and a pattern of thinking that he struggles to shake off,” Mr Green explained.

They came in the wake of the London tragedy, his response was to drink 15 pints and that led to his behaviour.

There was no real risk of a fire because he was trying to ignite a beer bottle.

His words were so outrageous that he was bound to be caught quickly, as he was.

North Wales News

Wales Online

Previously admitted to being a member of the EDL in connection with a previous offence:

Wales Online

A judge has hit out at sentencing powers that prevented him from handing out a tougher punishment to a self-confessed racist who threatened to blow up a mosque.

Judge Niclas Parry said he found it “quite staggering” a religiously aggravated public order offence could only attract a fine as a punishment for former soldier John Parkin.

Parkin, who was jailed for 10 months for being in breach of an earlier suspended sentence, escaped separate punishment on two charges of religiously aggravated public order offences following two separate outbursts against Muslims in Rhyl.

On one occasion, Parkin, 26, of River Street, John Parkin, was seen near Ellis’ public house in Water Street in Rhyl, where there was also a mosque, in a drunken condition and he was warned about his behaviour.

The licensee heard him say: “I have got guns. I want to shoot Muslims in the head.”

He spoke about blowing up the mosque and the licensee found his remarks extremely racist and offensive, the court heard.

When police attended they found him shouting and remonstrating with security staff and he was arrested.

Yet he continued with his racist tirade saying: “Muslims are taking over the country. They need to go back to their own country.”

He later told police: “I am a racist. I hate Muslims”, adding that he was a member of the English Defence League, although it was said in court that he was not.

When interviewed, he said that he hated Muslims but would not say why.

Parkin was bailed but then on the night of Christmas Day he was refused entry into Ellis’ Bar because he was drunk and again indulged in a racist tirade.

He said: “Muslims are allowed in but I am not.”

When questioned by police he said he was drunk and could not remember but agreed that he would make such comments and believed Muslims should not be in the country.

“We don’t need them. They are taking over,” he said.

The two offences put him in breach of a 52 week prison sentence, which in June of last year was suspended for two years, following an attack on his then partner.

Sentencing Parkin today at Mold Crown Court, sitting in Chester, the judge branded him a racist and a bigot.

“You typify the ignorance that poisons our society,” he said.

“I frankly find it quite staggering, and I always have done, that the court’s sentencing powers for these matters are limited to a financial penalty.”

Parkin served in the British Army for five years – including a tour of Northern Ireland and two of Bosnia.

He was medically discharged after a landmine exploded in Basra, fracturing his skull.

Wales Online