Friday, July 10, 2009

Pair jailed for web race crimes!

Defendants Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle
The men's bid for asylum was thrown out by a judge

Two men have been jailed after becoming the first in the UK to be convicted of inciting racial hatred online.

Simon Sheppard, 51, of Selby in North Yorkshire, received four years and 10 months, and Stephen Whittle, 42, of Preston, two years and four months.

The men printed leaflets and controlled websites featuring racist material.

They fled to the US after being convicted of race-hate offences at a trial at Leeds Crown Court last year, but failed in an asylum bid.

Sheppard, of Brook Street, Selby, was found guilty of 11 offences and Whittle, of Avenham Lane, Preston, was found guilty of five offences at a trial in July last year.



Sheppard was convicted of a further five charges in January 2009.

However, before the jury in the first trial could return verdicts, both men fled to Los Angeles International airport and attempted to claim political asylum.

Their bid was thrown out by a US immigration judge.

The men were charged with publishing and distributing racially inflammatory material, and possessing racially inflammatory material with a view to distribution.

Leeds Crown Court was told Whittle wrote offensive articles that were then published on the internet by Sheppard.

The published material included images of murdered Jews alongside cartoons and articles ridiculing ethnic groups.

Judge Rodney Grant told the men their material was "abusive and insulting" and had the potential to cause "grave social harm".

He added: "Such offences as these have, by their very nature, the potential to cause grave social harm, particularly in a society such as ours which has, for a number of years now, been multi-racial.

"These are serious offences. I can say without any hesitation that I have rarely seen, or had to read or consider, material which is so abusive and insulting... towards racial groups within our own society."

The investigation into Sheppard began when a complaint about a leaflet, called "Tales of the Holohoax", was reported to police in 2004 after it was pushed through the door of a synagogue in Blackpool.

It was traced back to a post office box in Hull registered to Sheppard.

Humberside Police later found a website featuring racially inflammatory material.

The force's Adil Khan, head of diversity and community cohesion, said: "This case is groundbreaking.

"It involved Humberside Police along with our colleagues from other forces.

"Inciting racial hatred is a crime and one which seems to occur too regularly. This kind of material will not be tolerated as this lengthy investigation shows."

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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