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Kevin Crehan (left) and Mark Bennett were part of a group that targeted the mosque in January

Kevin Crehan (left) and Mark Bennett were part of a group that targeted the mosque in January



Two men have been jailed and two women have been given suspended sentences after rashers of bacon were tied to door handles at a Bristol mosque.

During the incident on 17 January, the group shouted racial abuse at a member of the mosque and tied a St George’s flag to the fence of the Jamia Mosque.

Kevin Crehan, 34, of Knowle, was jailed for 12 months and Mark Bennett, 48, of Patchway, for nine months.

Both had admitted religiously aggravated public order offences.

At the Bristol Crown Court hearing, 46-year-old Alison Bennett – the wife of Mark Bennett – was given a six-month sentence, suspended for two years, while Angelina Swales, 31, from Brislington, was handed a four-month sentence, suspended for two years.

‘Worship without fear’

The two women also admitted religiously aggravated public order offences in relation to the targeting of the Totterdown mosque.

All four were given a restraining order preventing them from going within 100m of a mosque anywhere in England or Wales for the next 10 years.

Insp Nigel Colston of Avon and Somerset Police paid tribute to the way the community responded to what happened.

He said: “The way local people came together with overwhelming support for the mosque made me proud to be associated with Bristol.

“There can never be any excuse for hate crime in any shape or form and this criminality will not be tolerated.

“All of our communities have the right to live and worship peacefully without fear of being targeted for their race or religion.”
BBC News

ONE OF the men who admits a racially aggravated attack on Totterdown’s mosque has claimed in court that he didn’t know that bacon was offensive to Muslims.

Mark Bennett, 48, claimed he was not a racist and did not take bacon to the mosque in Green Street on January 17, 2016, intending to cause offence.

Instead, he said, he was trying to raise awareness about the plight of British armed forces veterans and homeless people who he felt deserved more attention.

Bennett, of Spruce Way, Patchway, his wife Alison Bennett, 46, Kevin Crehan, 34, of Springleaze, Knowle, and Angelina Margaret Swales, 31, of West Town Avenue, Brislington, have all pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence at the Jamia mosque.

Bristol crown court was told on June 17 that during the incident racial abuse was shouted at a Muslim man attending the mosque. Raw bacon was thrown and left hanging from the mosque’s railings and an English flag, the cross of St George, was left on the steps with the legend “No mosques, no refugees”, the prosecution said.

But the two men involved denied being racists, said there was no bacon thrown, and they did not hear any racial abuse. They claimed their protest was peaceful. Crehan said it was an attempt to get Muslims to “integrate”. “I grew up in Totterdown and I have got many, many Muslim friends,” he said.

Bennett drew a parallel with charitable activities.

“In my own time I go to the city centre and take coffee and bacon sandwiches to people who live on the streets,” he said.

Judge Julian Lambert asked Bennett if he expected people at the mosque to eat his bacon sandwiches and be grateful for them.

“Possibly,” Bennett replied. The court had heard that Bennett and his wife had bought the bacon and some bread in a £1 shop in Broadmead the same morning. The barrister for the prosecution, Ian Fenney, asked Bennett: “Did you expect people to eat raw bacon?”

“No,” said Bennett. “Where was the bacon going to be cooked?” asked Mr Fenney.

“It possibly could have been cooked in the mosque. I wouldn’t know, would I?” said Bennett.

He added: “I didn’t know that it was offensive to take bacon to the mosque. If I had known I wouldn’t have taken it. Mr Fenney responded: “I suggest you knew exactly how much offence would be caused by taking raw bacon and that’s why you did it. Why was bacon found on the door handles of the mosque? Because any Muslim entering the mosque would have to touch it.”

Bennett told the court he didn’t know the meaning of the word “jihad”.

The court was also told that in 2008 Crehan racially abused an Asian police officer at Broadbury Road police station, after he was arrested at his home during a domestic disturbance. Crehan said he was high on alcohol and drugs at the time but had since given both up.

Bennett was presented with several Facebook pages, posted in April 2016, in the name Marc Bennet, which contained offensive statements about Muslims and references to a recent attack on a mosque.

Bennett said the pages were not his and suggested they had been created to frame him by left-wing activists. He agreed that he had previously had another Facebook page in the name Mark English.

The four will be sentenced at another hearing on July 22, when the two women will be cross-examined.

The attack on January 17 resulted in an outpouring of support for the Jamia mosque, the oldest in Bristol. Hundreds of people attended an open afternoon the following weekend, and hundreds more pledged their support for the mosque being at the heart of the Totterdown community.

South Bristol Voice

A convicted football hooligan has admitted his involvement in an attack where a bacon sandwich was thrown at a Bristol mosque.

Kevin Crehan, 34, of Stockwood Crescent, Knowle, was charged with a racially aggravated public order offence following the incident at Jamia Mosque in Green Street, Totterdown, last month.

In a five minute hearing at Bristol Crown Court he pleaded guilty to the charge, accepting a religiously aggravated offence to cause Nasir Ahmed harassment, alarm or distress.

Judge Martin Picton adjourned his case, pending a probation report, until March 24.

He bailed Crehan on condition he co-operates with the probation service.

Crehan’s bail also prevents him from going on the pavement outside, or within the boundaries of, any mosque in England and Wales.

The judge told him: “You have to understand this case carries custody.”.

On Sunday, January 17, a flag was said to be hung on a fence outside the mosque stating: “No mosque wanted here” and “Bristol United Patriots”.

Elderly worshippers attending the mosque were abused and bacon was thrown.

Self-styled anti-Muslim group, Bristol United Patriots, operate across the city but have publicly denied having anything to do with the attack.

It is not Crehan’s first brush with the law, which has included assaulting a police officer.

In 2010 he was sentenced to seven months in prison for breaching a three year football banning order.

At the time Bristol Crown Court heard the then 28-year-old was caught with a sawn-off pool cue down his trousers.

Crehan admitted four breaches which included failing to report to a police station during the World Cup and being inside an exclusion zone before a Bristol City versus Milwall match.

The court heard he had been banned from being within a mile of Bristol City’s Ashton Gate ground.

Crehan pleaded guilty to having an offensive weapon and stealing a DVD.

Regarding the mosque attack Alison Bennett, 46, Mark Bennett, 48, both of Spruce Way, Patchway and Angelina Swailes, 31, of West Town Avenue, Brislington have all been charged with a racially aggravated public order offence.

The Bennetts and Swailes have been released on bail with a condition not to enter or go within 100 metres of any mosque.

They are due to appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on February 25.

Bristol Post

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Lee Cousins

Lee Cousins

ONE football fan has been jailed and four others involved in trouble at the Bristol derby given suspended prison sentences.

Footage of ugly scenes in and around Ashton Gate stadium on the night of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy match between City and Rovers last September was shown to a judge at Bristol Crown Court as the five men were sentenced after all pleading guilty to a violent disorder charge.

They were: James Bagnall, 25, of Shickle Grove, Bath; Lee Cousins, 41, of Soundwell Road, Kingswood; Thomas Burke, 21, of Bredon, Yate; Alexander Parsons, 21, of Walnut Close, Coalpit Heath; Jordan Lloyd, 22, of Filton Avenue, Filton.

Sam Jones, prosecuting, said yesterday: “The violence and public disorder on display that evening was among the worst that the Avon and Somerset Constabulary have ever had to police.”

He said provocation started before the match, when City fans congregated at the Miner’s Arms pub in Bedminster and Rovers fans used the Cross Hands pub, a short distance away, with trouble erupting before kick-off on Trafalgar Terrace, close to Ashton Gate.

Inside the stadium there was further trouble when rival fans infiltrated each other’s seating areas, missiles were thrown and the pitch invaded.

After the game there was large-scale disorder in Winterstoke Road.

The judge was guided through CCTV clips highlighting each defendant’s involvement.

Bagnall was filmed using and threatening unlawful violence in a car park before the game, as well as kicking a woman police officer as she was hit in the face by another fan. He was also shown ripping out a seat in the stadium and throwing it into City fans who had invaded the pitch.

Cousins, who was said to be on the police radar as a member of a risk group, was captured on film opening an emergency gate in the stadium, which contributed to a crowd surge.

Burke was filmed in the Wedlock Stand, involving himself in disorder.

Parsons was filmed verbally abusing police before the game and pushing police in the stadium.

Lloyd told a police officer where he could shove his camera, the court heard, and was filmed pushing other fans and police in the stadium.

Mitigating, Thomas Horder said of stonemason and sportsman Bagnall: “He describes his own behaviour as appalling. He wishes to express profound remorse and apologies to the woman police officer.”

He added that Cousins was also ashamed of what he had done.

Alison Gurden, for Burke and Parsons, said “very embarrassed” Burke was a youth football coach who admitted pushing and shoving.

She said of Parsons, a Rovers fan from the age of three: “He feels he has let himself down and he’s let his family down.”

Darren Burleigh, defending Lloyd, said his client kicked out towards police some distance away.

Judge Graham Hume Jones jailed Bagnall for two-and-a-half years, with a six-year Football Banning Order (FBO). Cousins was given a two-year suspended sentence, a five year FBO and told to do 300 hours’ unpaid work. Burke received a 15-month suspended sentence, with 200 hours’ unpaid work and a three-year FBO.

Parsons received a 16-month suspended sentence, with 200 hours’ unpaid work and a three-year FBO.

Lloyd received an 18-month suspended sentence with 200 hours’ unpaid work and a three-year FBO.

The judge told the men: “There was overall violent disorder to decent football fans, the elderly, young, very young and the disabled, and to the police trying to do their job of protecting the public and keeping the peace.”

Bristol Post

Lee Cousins is an active supporter of the English Defence League and was found guilty of racially/religiously aggravated harassment last year. You can read more here

A RIOTER told police he wore a balaclava to imitate someone in a burkha during the trouble that broke out during a march in memory of murdered soldier Lee Rigby.

Craig Oakley, 41, joined a march the judge described as little more than a “pub crawl” for men aged between 18 and 35 – some of whom were members of the English Defence League,

The march was organised in Kingswood via social-networking website Facebook following the death of Drummer Rigby in Woolwich, London on May 22.

What started as a relatively peaceful event, with some 20 to 30 people involved, became fractious and resulted in police ‘kettling’ the group, that by then had swollen to around 60 people, in St George’s Hall pub in Redfield.

oakley

During that time Oakley, a security guard, was filmed by police chanting, helping build the barricade of tables and chairs in the pub and kicking out at an police officer.

The married father-of-two of Nover’s Lane, Knowle was arrested and later admitted affray.

At Bristol Crown Court he was given a five-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months with 100 hours unpaid work and must pay a £80 victim surcharge.

Richard Posner, prosecuting, said police quickly realised what had been organised as a family event was nothing of the sort and extra officers were called in.

After they saw Oakley had kicked out at a police officer and helped build the barricade in the pub he was arrested and a balaclava was found in his jeans pocket.

“He had put that balaclava on and made gestures at police officers,” Mr Posner said.

“He said he did so to imitate the wearing of a burkha. They could not say if he was shouting racist abuse.”

Mr Posner said Oakley was quick to apologise for his actions and was seen to be ashamed and embarrassed that he had let his family down.

Robert Morgan-Jones, for Oakley, made it clear there was no evidence his client was a member of the EDL, had hurled racist abuse or thrown bottles at police officers.

He added that there was substantial evidence of Oakley pulling back protesters who were attacking police and he had kicked out in a “moment of madness.”

Mr Morgan-Jones conceded Oakley’s explanation for wearing the balaclava was “ridiculous” but denied he had it there to conceal his identity.

“It speaks more of a lack of thought and stupidity than anything pre-planned,” he said.

Mr Morgan-Jones said Oakley had written a letter expressing his remorse before he was even interviewed, and he had paid a heavy price because he had been unable to get his licence from the Security Industry Authority because of his actions.

Recorder David Evans told Oakley: “You chose to take part in this event and stayed with the marchers for the duration once you had joined them. That meant going to various pubs and drinking alcohol with the group getting increasingly rowdy.

“It has been said on your behalf that kicking out at police was a moment of madness but I’m afraid I don’t agree.

“No one required you to go out drinking or to be at the forefront of the group. It was not a moment of madness, it was a moment of utterly unneeded drunken aggression.

“While wearing the balaclava is not an act of violence it is an aggravating feature and could only have been taken with you on the march with a particular intention.”


Bristol Post

Disorder followed a walk raising money for the Help for Heroes charity, and in memory of murdered drummer Lee Rigby, in Bristol last month.

Disorder followed a walk raising money for the Help for Heroes charity, and in memory of murdered drummer Lee Rigby, in Bristol last month.

Paul Lloyd, a family man involved in riots that followed the murder of soldier Lee Rigby has been given a suspended jail term.

Paul Lloyd was singled out from a group of men who clashed with police when a supposed peace walk turned violent, Bristol Crown Court heard.

The court was told members of the English Defence League, as well as supporters of United Against Fascists, converged in Kingswood for the social- media-sparked event.

Police arrested Lloyd in a melee that resulted and spotted him mouthing “EDL” during a stand-off in a pub in St George, the court heard.

Lloyd, 39, of Little Stoke, pleaded guilty to threatening unlawful violence The judge handed Lloyd a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 200 hours of unpaid work. He was ordered to pay £150 prosecution costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

Bristol Post

A RACIST thug downed more than 15 pints and numerous shots before abusing Asian taxi drivers and smashing a taxi window.

When police asked Jamie Takle how he thought the drivers felt about being racially abused, he replied: “To be honest I vote BNP – what does that tell you? They should all go back to their own country.”

Takle, of Aldwick Avenue, Hartcliffe, had been so aggressive on the night in question that a police officer had to spray CS gas in his face to arrest him.

The 23-year-old appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court yesterday to be sentenced after pleading guilty to three counts of racially aggravated harassment, one of racially aggravated criminal damage and one of harassment on December 24 last year.

Paul Ricketts, prosecuting, said Takle had been drinking at several pubs with friends including the Hartcliffe Inn and Three Lions in Bedminster by which time he had consumed nine pints of cider.

Later Takle went into town and headed to Antix on Park Street where he continued to down pints and shots, Mr Ricketts said.

“The defendant left the club and walked down Park Street where he flagged down a taxi,” he said.

“There was then a dispute about a fare and the taxi driver was subjected to racist abuse.

“The defendant then removed his belt, wrapped it around his fist and punched the side window with the buckle causing it to smash.”

Mr Ricketts said a second taxi – in which the occupants were also Asian – witnessed the incident and were also racially abused by Takle.

Mr Ricketts said: “Police arrived a short time later and the defendant made off resulting in a short chase.

“The defendant still had the belt wrapped around his hand. The defendant moved towards the police officer who deployed CS gas spray and the defendant was arrested.

“In interview the following afternoon he was asked how he thought the victims of his abuse would feel.

“He replied ‘To be honest I vote BNP – what does that tell you?

“They should all go back to their own country.”

Mr Ricketts added that the first taxi driver was strongly offended and felt he should not have to put up with abuse while he was at work.

John Search, defending, said it was only right that Takle was assessed by the probation service so they could address concerns about his alcohol abuse and racism issues.

Takle will be sentenced on March 23. He was released on bail.

This is Bristol