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United Kingdom 9:29am Saturday 11th July 2009 The Press: Online Publication|
TWO racists who led an online hate campaign before fleeing to America to avoid justice have been jailed.
Simon Sheppard, 52, was convicted, along with Stephen Whittle, 42, of a number of race hate crimes.
Sheppard, of Selby, was sentenced to four years and ten months, while Whittle, who is a graduate of the University of York, was jailed for two years and four months at Leeds Crown Court yesterday.
The pair had two lengthy trials. During the first, 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.
But they became embroiled in the US asylum process and have spent the last 11 months in an American prison.
Sheppard, of Brook Street, in Selby, was found guilty of 16 charges relating to the possession, publication and distribution of racist material.
Whittle, who is originally from Preston, Lancashire, was found guilty of five counts of publishing racially inflammatory material.
Published material included grotesque images of murdered Jews alongside cartoons and articles ridiculing ethnic groups.
Judge Rodney Grant said: “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 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.
The pair fled to America, but were deported last month. Ironically, if they had not claimed asylum with an airport official and instead walked off into the country and then found themselves an asylum lawyer, the pair may today have been living free in California.