A 25-year-old man has been found guilty of helping two former soldiers fire-bomb a mosque in Grimsby as a reprisal for the killing of soldier Lee Rigby.
Stuart Harness, 34, and Gavin Humphries, 37, have already admitted throwing four petrol bombs at the Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre four days after the murder of Fusilier Rigby outside Woolwich Barracks in south east London in May. The pair were caught on CCTV making the bombs and then throwing them at the mosque doors as terrified worshippers were trapped inside.
Daniel Cressey was found guilty on Thursday by a jury at Grimsby Crown Court of aiding and abetting Harness and Humphries. Cressey drove his friends the short distance from Harness’s home in Dixon Avenue in the town to the mosque but did not take part in the arson attack. All three men will be sentenced at Hull Crown Court on December 20.
Judge Mark Bury remanded Cressey, of New Holland, North Lincolnshire, in custody and told him a prison sentence was inevitable. Harness and Humphries, both of Dixon Avenue, Grimsby, are also in custody.
A three-day trial heard that Harness and Humphries unwittingly recorded themselves making the bombs, burning off excess petrol from a garden table and carrying the makeshift devices towards Cressey’s car on cameras set up in Harness’s home. The jury was shown the footage repeatedly.
Different cameras then caught the men launching the bombs at the main doors of the mosque and the bottles exploding in bright orange flames. A number of people who were using the mosque were on the other side and, despite being frightened by the flames coming under the door, managed to extinguish the blaze.
The mosque had been targeted earlier in the week and, because of this, two police community support officers were patrolling nearby and spotted the attack. They followed Harness and Humphries back to Dixon Avenue where they were quickly arrested.
Cressey, who is Harness’s cousin, denied one charge of aiding and abetting arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
He was captured on the CCTV footage at Harness’s home but claimed he had only come round to get some fishing tips from his cousin and did not notice the petrol bombs or burning table during his 40 minutes in the house. But he did not give evidence at his trial and the jury rejected his version of events after three hours of deliberations.
Cressey, in a dark suit, white shirt and a grey tie, showed no emotion as the jury of eight women and four men delivered its verdict.
Judge Bury told him: “You’ve been convicted on plain evidence of aiding and abetting your cousin Stuart Harness and another man, Gavin Humphries, to fire-bomb the Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre. That’s a serious offence.” The judge added: “You went into this knowing full well what was going on. A prison sentence is inevitable.”