Four men were jailed for throwing a severed pig’s head into a mosque in Lancashire last May.
Shocked women and children watched as the four friends dumped a carrier bag containing the severed head in the parking lot of Blackpool Central Mosque.
Preston Crown Court was told the four men had organized the crime—which came only two days after the murder of solider Lee Rigby in May 2013—as a prank, knowing it would be seen as an insult in a Muslim place of worship.
The four men—Thomas Ashton, 21; Andrew Warner, 31; Travis Crabtree, 25; and Steven White, 28—are all from Blackpool or Lytham-St.-Annes. They were locked up on Monday for a total of just over three years. Crabtree was given 14 months in prison. Ashton, White and Warner were each given ten, eight, and seven months, respectively.
Investigating police found taunting messages on White’s Facebook, which read “They will be fuming.”
Mirror reports that the four men admitted to religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress last May in the aftermath of the bloody murder of Rigby in Woolwich, London.
Lawyers for the four men stated that the men were not racists, noting that the incident was “a prank that went horribly wrong.” Another lawyer added that they had just been “swept up in the moment.”
An imam, a leader of the mosque, had pleaded for clemency for the men. Judge Graham Knowles QC, however, said that only jail was appropriate.
“People are and must be free to worship as they please and without this kind of foul attack on them and that which they hold sacred,” Knowles stated.
The judge went on to say to the men that “what you four did must be denounced.”
Prosecutor Clare Thomas said a volunteer received a Facebook message that an unpleasant package had been sent to the mosque; the volunteer then discovered the pig’s head in a carrier bag outside the mosque.
“It sent a shiver down his spine,” Thomas said. “Pigs and items relating to them are forbidden for Muslims to touch or have contact with.”
“Its presence at a place of worship was highly insulting,” Thomas continued. “Parents and children had started to arrive at the mosque. Some of them saw the head and felt offended and angry.”