Men who attacked Poole mosque sentenced to four months in prison

Four men who smashed windows in a religiously-aggravated attack on a Poole mosque were jailed for four months today.

Before their afternoon attack on the Dorset Islamic Cultural Centre on May 23, Michael Manyweathers, Robert Mullins, Trevor Mullins and Jeremy Rochester had been drinking and discussing the murder of drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich the day before.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard that 34-year-old Rochester used a stick to smash six windows, encouraged by Manyweathers, 49, and Trevor Mullins, 38. Robert Mullins, 35, who drove them to the Ashley Road mosque, sat in the car nearby. They were interrupted by an off-duty police officer who was walking nearby with his elderly father, and later arrested.

All four pleaded guilty to racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage as the attack was deemed a joint enterprise.

In mitigation it was claimed that all four men were ashamed and felt remorse for their actions, which had in some cases led to them having difficulties with their children. They were prepared to pay for the damage, and one had offered to carry out the repairs himself as part of a community order.

The court heard there was no evidence the men had any connection with extremist groups.

Jailing them, Judge John Harrow said: “No decent person would fail to be shocked and outraged by the murder of drummer Lee Rigby, and no right-thinking person would wish to see anyone punished other than the guilty.

“In the immediate aftermath there was fear and anxiety that fringe elements might carry out reprisals on law-abiding members of ethnic minority communities. Your mindless reaction was to go to the Islamic Centre together.” He said it was fortunate there was no one inside the mosque at the time.

“Smashing a window is not of itself a major crime, the damage was relatively minor and there was no further desecration of the building,” he added. “It is, however, the racial element in the aftermath of that tragedy and the tense atmosphere in the country at the time that puts this in a more serious category.

“What you did frightened and possibly insulted the local Islamic community, who probably felt insecure enough as it was. And there was a danger that extremists might be encouraged by your example.”

Manyweathers, of Fernside Avenue, Poole; Robert Mullins, of Ash Close, Shaftesbury; Trevor Mullins, of Ash Close, Shaftesbury, and Rochester, of Cromwell Road, Bournemouth, were also each ordered to pay £150 in compensation.

Wessex District Crown Prosecutor Richard Oakle said: “We hope that with this prosecution the public will be reassured that the CPS takes very seriously any religiously and racially motivated attack and will robustly prosecute those cases when there is sufficient evidence and is in the public interest to do so.”

Bournemouth Echo, 28 June 2013