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Geoffrey Farquharson sent a racist and homophobic voice message to Ben Bradshaw the day before Jo Cox MP was killed

Geoffrey Farquharson, 37, leaves Exeter magistrates court after receiving a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for two years. Photograph: Rod Minchin/PA

Geoffrey Farquharson, 37, leaves Exeter magistrates court after receiving a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for two years. Photograph: Rod Minchin/PA

A man who sent a threatening voice message to senior Labour MP Ben Bradshaw the day before the killing of parliamentary colleague Jo Cox has been given a suspended sentence.

In the two-minute message Geoffrey Farquharson, 37, shouts down the phone, swears repeatedly and makes threats towards the former culture secretary. The racist and homophobic message, which was left on the answerphone of Bradshaw’s parliamentary office, was sent the day before Labour MP Cox was killed in June this year.

The message made Bradshaw fearful for the safety of his staff, Exeter magistrates court heard. District Judge Stephen Nichols sentenced Farquharson to 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He was also given a 25-day community order, banned indefinitely from contacting Bradshaw or attending his constituency office, and ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs.

The judge told him: “The message was clearly homophobic, Islamophobic and racist and there was clearly a death threat to Mr Bradshaw.

“You accept through your guilty plea that the message you sent to Mr Bradshaw was highly offensive. In the message, your voice became extremely angry and you make threats and use highly offensive and abusive language.”

In the message, which was played to the court, Farquharson starts by giving his full name and address and says he has just watched a video on Facebook about Muslim extremism.

Farquharson then launches a homophobic tirade against Bradshaw, who is gay, and repeatedly goads the MP to call the police. The defendant uses highly offensive language throughout, and describes Bradshaw as “evil”.

The call was picked up by a member of the MP’s staff, who raised the alarm. After Bradshaw reported the matter to the police, Farquharson was arrested the following day.

The court heard that the MP had made a victim impact statement, in which he said: “Having had death threats before I was not unduly concerned about myself and more concerned about my staff, particularly in Exeter, who have borne the brunt of Mr Farquharson.”

He went on to say that public servants should not have to put up with threats and abuse from members of the public and that his concerns had been heightened because of the killing of Cox.

At a previous hearing, Farquharson, of Exeter, had pleaded guilty to sending an indecent or grossly offensive message. Farquharson, who suffers from mental health issues, was accompanied by his carer when he returned to court to be sentenced.

The judge heard that Farquharson had autism and a difficult upbringing. Rob Jacobs, defending, said Farquharson’s “anger and annoyance” had been building up at what he saw as “concerns for others” and he had “lost his temper”.

Jacobs said: “Mr Farquharson is both very vulnerable and probably a very lonely individual. I don’t think he would mind me saying that that he has too much time to think and ruminate on his political views. It is true that his political views are strongly held.

“He would say that he does not hold homophobic or racist views himself and the words he used were a manifestation of his anger and frustration, rather than him holding any anti-social views.”

Last week, Bradshaw said the abuse dished out to politicians on social media had got worse since the death of Cox. He told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show he believed it was now “socially acceptable” to use Facebook and Twitter to abuse politicians and he hoped the killing would lead to a “deeper reflection” about the political culture in the UK.

The Guardian

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POLICE have confirmed that a dangerous armed robber and paedophile from Exeter was arrested this afternoon – four months after going on the run.

Officers cuffed Mark Sleman in the Smallfield area of Surrey.

A police spokesman said Sleman is currently in custody and would be returned to prison.

PC Mark Nagle who led the search for Sleman told the Echo recently that the net was widening in the search for him and officers believe he is no longer in the city.

Mark Sleman, also known as Archie, had once been convicted for kidnapping and trying to rape a 10-year-old child. He was released last year on licence as part of a seven-year sentence for robbing a homeless man at knifepoint and attempting to rob a garage shop supervisor in Exeter, again armed with a knife.

Despite being described by the judge as a “cold, callous psychopath” and being diagnosed with a personality disorder, the English Defence League supporter was allowed out of prison early.

He subsequently fled his bail hostel in Exeter and until today’s arrest had spent nearly four months on the run.

In a recent interview PC Nagle said: “We are following up leads and putting all our efforts into catching him,” he said.

“My message to the public who are concerned is that we are working very hard on bringing him back behind bars.”


Exeter Express and Echo

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A trio of men arrested in connection with a major national demonstration by a controversial far right-wing group in Exeter have appeared in court.

Kurtis Coyle, Daniel Holmes and Steven Hart were brought before Exeter Magistrates today following the English Defence League (EDL) march in the city on November 16.

Coyle, 21 from Heavitree, was given a suspended prison sentence of four weeks after he admitted the possession of a knuckle duster in the The Chevalier Inn, Fore Street as well as the possession of a class A drug.

He claimed he was planning to take the weapon “to a mate’s house” after apparently buying it online for £10, the court heard.

Coyle was ordered him to pay costs of £165, and was told the drugs – 1.4g of cocaine – would be destroyed.

Daniel Holmes, 30 from Exwick, issued no plea after being charged with the possession of a knife on Queen Street. He was granted unconditional bail and his case will be heard at Exeter Crown Court on January 3.

Steven Hart, 48, from the Pinhoe area of Exeter, was given a custodial discharge of six months after admitting being drunk in a public place.

Hart, who was described as a “long-term alcoholic”, was found lying down on a pavement under the influence of alcohol and unable to stand unassisted, the court heard.

A fourth man arrested – a 49-year-old Surrey man – had been given a fixed penalty notice for being drunk and disorderly in the city centre on November 15.

Chief Inspector Jim Gales, of Devon and Cornwall Police, described the day as a “success” for the force.

“We had to intervene at times to prevent outbreaks of disorder, making a very small number of arrests,” he said.

“But what we [were] able to do [was] to facilitate peaceful demonstrations and allow the inhabitants of Exeter to go about their daily business safely.”

More than 200 people travelled from across the country for the EDL march and rally in the city centre.

But a total of 1,000 people, under the banner of Exeter Together, paraded down the streets earlier in the day and gathered for a rally to condemn the group.

A mounted police unit from South Wales were among a total of 400 officers from as far away as Birmingham who were tasked with patrolling activities.

City centre manager John Harvey described the police operation as “excellent”, saying the force ensured it remained “business as normal”.

“It could have been a day that tarnished the city, but actually it enhanced its reputation. On lots of levels, we can be very proud,” he added.

Some 225 EDL supporters gathered at the Locomotive pub on New North Road before marching along the road, down Queen Street to Rougemont Gardens flanked by police.

Angry exchanges took place between opponents and protestors who chanted “You’re English no more” and “whose streets, our streets” as they marched.

Two protestors donned burqas – traditional Islamic dress – and were seen to imitate Muslim prayer in the middle of a street.

Exeter News & Echo

A DANGEROUS armed robber who once kidnapped and tried to rape a 10-year-old child has gone on the run after fleeing his Exeter bail hostel.

Mark Sleman, a known member of the EDL, was released from jail under licence earlier this year as part of a seven-year sentence for robbing a homeless man at knifepoint and attempting to rob a garage shop supervisor in Exeter, again armed with a knife.

sleman

But the probation service has now withdrawn his licence as they are no longer able to supervise him and a police manhunt has been launched to get him back behind bars.

Police believe Sleman is still in the Exeter area and the public has been warned not to approach him but to call 999 immediately if they see him. A police spokesman said: “It is very important to get him in because of the kind of guy he is. We believe he is still in Exeter and we have mainly been looking at areas and addresses he had links to and carrying out checks.

“We are now asking for more information from the public. The more eyes looking for him the better.

“We are very keen to try to get hold of him. My message to the public would be to not approach him as he is a violent man. If they see him in person they should call 999 immediately. If they have any information as to where he is they should call us on 101.” Sleman category of offending means he has spent nearly 20 of his 42 years locked up and when he was jailed at Exeter Crown Court in November 2008 the judge considered an “indefinite term” which would have meant he could only be released if he could prove to the Home Secretary he was no longer a danger to the public.

He had been diagnosed as a ‘cold and callous psychopath’ and had robbed his own homeless friend at knifepoint when they were sleeping rough on land near Sandygate roundabout.

He then attempted to rob the Esso station at the Moto services on the M5 at Sowton and was only thwarted by a quick-thinking shop assistant.

He was also sentenced to another four months when he admitted the offences were a breach of a suspended sentence he had been given for failing to notify the Sex Offenders’ Register of a change of address.

The court also heard that Sleman had previously served a nine-year jail sentence for attempted rape, indecent assault and kidnap. That involved kidnapping a 10-year-old girl from a house, taking her to a caravan, sexually abusing her, threatening her, then returning her to her address.

He had also been jailed in 2003 for robbing the Winning Post service station, on Haldon Hill, near the city, at knifepoint.

PC Nagle added: “I cannot comment on any other previous convictions apart from the armed robbery he was on licence for. But when people start breaching their licence they often think what else can I get away with.

“We don’t want to worry the public but it is vital he is caught. There is an obvious fear he will offend again. We are not suggesting he will commit the same offences but it is clear he is a criminal who has a history of violent offending.

“He needs to be recalled to prison. He has a substantial amount of his sentence left.”

PC Nagle said that in addition to fleeing the bail hostel he had got into arrears over paying his accommodation. He was released from prison on 1 May.

“He was being monitored by probation service and they have revoked his licence as they were not able to supervise him anymore,” he added.

“It is never good having someone like that out. We are doing everything we can to find him. And hopefully, with the public’s help, it is not long before we do.”

Police say that Sleman also goes by the name Archie Sleman and Stuart Holmes. He is described as a white man, 5ft 11in tall (180cm), medium build, cropped ginger hair, blue eyes, with a 3in scar on his right cheek and a soft English accent. He has numerous tattoos on his arms, including a rose, the name Suggs, a cross and some dots.

As well as Exeter, Sleman is known to have visited Torbay, East Devon and Exmouth.

Anyone who knows the current whereabouts of Sleman or has seen him recently is asked to contact police on 101 quoting police reference DE/13/8408

Express & Echo

A MAN launched a drunken attack on a mosque after watching a news report about the desecration of Commonwealth graves in Libya.

Barry Stanbury, 42, was caught on CCTV cameras at shortly before 2.30am on March 5, wandering around the Exeter Mosque before a window was smashed, Exeter magistrates heard.

The court was told Stanbury was wearing “a distinctive hoodie” with a logo of a large cross on it, and a police officer recognised the defendant.

Clifford Howard, prosecuting, said: “The criminal damage occurred at the Exeter Mosque at 2.23am. We have the precise time because it was caught on CCTV.”

When interviewed Stanbury said he was “so drunk he did not remember doing it”.

Mr Howard said he told police his motive for carrying out the religiously aggravated criminal damage was seeing on the news that Commonwealth graves had been desecrated in Libya.

Stanbury, of Laxton Avenue, Exeter, denied racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage at the mosque but was convicted after a trial.

Magistrates sentenced him to 80 hours unpaid work, £100 compensation and pay £150 costs.

Read more at http://www.devonlive.com/man-launched-drunken-attack-exeter-mosque/story-17210666-detail/story.html#axzz2UdZMRgja#uZtE5ZJTB75XHro6.99

March 5th 2012

This Is Exeter