Pair jailed for race-hate crimes

Two men were jailed today for inciting racial hatred online.





Simon Sheppard, 52, was sentenced to four years and 10 months while Stephen Whittle, 42, was given a term of two years and four months after being convicted of a number of race-hate crimes.

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

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

Their right-wing output was based on the writings of other extremists like American Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell.

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



Judge Grant said the offences were "unpleasant and very serious".

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 pair were convicted of a number of race-hate crimes which involved the possession, publication and distribution of racially inflammatory material.



They were convicted at Leeds Crown Court following two lengthy trials.



During the first trial in July last year, the pair skipped bail and fled to California, where they sought asylum, claiming they were being persecuted for their right-wing views.



They were deported back to the UK last month.



Today's sentence included a four-month term for skipping bail after the judge said they had "in effect just run away to avoid the consequences of your actions".



The court was told that the investigation into the men began when a complaint about a leaflet called Tales Of The Holohoax was reported to the 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.



Police later found a website featuring racially inflammatory material.



Prosecutors said one leaflet found by officers suggested that Auschwitz was a holiday camp for Jews provided by the Nazis.



Prosecuting, Jonathan Sandiford, said: "The general theme of the article was that Auschwitz-Birkenau was in fact a holiday camp provided by the Nazi regime.



"Jews from all over Europe came to enjoy a free holiday. A constant theme was the Jewish people had made up the story of the Holocaust as a slur on the German people."



Referring to an article by Whittle, the prosecutor added: "He returned to what appears to be a favourite theme: the notion that black people are not as equal as whites. They are sex-crazed, blood-thirsty savages.



"Black people were caricatured as uncivilised primitive savages portrayed as nothing more than murderers and rapists."



Sheppard, who has a previous race-hate conviction, of Brook Street, Selby, North Yorkshire, was found guilty of 16 offences and Whittle, of Avenham Lane, Preston, Lancashire, was found guilty of five offences.



The defendants' trials raised questions over the limits of free speech in the UK, as the pair claimed they should be acquitted because the articles were posted on a server registered in the US, beyond the reach of UK law.



Mitigating, Adrian Davidson, for Sheppard, said his client came from a "very troubled background" and revealed that his mother had committed suicide.



He said he had problems with authority, and in particular the police.



He said that, despite his troubled past, he was an intelligent man who had managed to obtain a degree in maths.



His client believed he was involved in a lawful activity as the articles were published on a US server, he told the court.



The barrister said much of the information was still widely accessible on other sites.



Linda Turnbull, for Whittle, said her client was shocked at the nature of the articles he had written. "They are nasty and unacceptable," she told the court.



She said her client had no intention of re-offending in the future.



Adil Khan, head of diversity and community cohesion at Humberside Police, said: "This case is groundbreaking.



"Previously material published on the internet has been argued to have been published by internet servers located outside the UK.



"In this case the publication was judged to have occurred when Sheppard and Whittle themselves uploaded the information.



"This has been a very long journey - one which has been complex and complicated.



"It has 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.



"The sentence today reflects the seriousness of the offences.



"We are very proud of our officers and the people who gave evidence. We would like to praise the strength of the victims throughout this lengthy process.



"Sheppard and Whittle took measures to avoid the inevitable by absconding to America. They have now been returned to this country to face justice.



"Anyone who has been affected by the trial or the material is urged to contact Humberside Police Diversity Unit on 0845 60 60 222.



"Anyone who receives copies of such material or who comes across any on the internet they are advised to contact police either by telephone or by visiting a neighbourhood policing team."

News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
video
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1 by Georgia O'Keeffe
art
Sport
Robin van Persie leaves the field at the King Power Stadium last Sunday
football
Arts and Entertainment
tvPresenter back after daughter's Halloween accident
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch as John Watson and Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock
tv

Co-creator Mark Gatiss dropped some very intriguing hints ahead of the BBC drama's return next year

News
people

London 'needs affordable housing'

News
In this photo illustration, the Twitter logo and hashtag '#Ring!' is displayed on a mobile device as the company announced its initial public offering and debut on the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 in London, England. Twitter went public on the NYSE opening at USD 26 per share, valuing the company's worth at an estimated USD 18 billion.
news

Arts and Entertainment
Timeshift: The Ladybird Books Story (9pm BBC4 Sun 22 Dec)
BooksLadybird drops branding books for boys and girls
Arts and Entertainment
music Band accidentally drops four-letter description at concert
News
news
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines