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Man who set fire to Sikh temple and church in ‘political statement’ is jailed

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A person who poured petrol on the doorways of each a Sikh temple and a Methodist church earlier than setting them on fireplace, has been jailed for 4 years.

Paul Johnson, was mentioned to have “points” with religion, set the the doorway of Edinburgh’s Guru Nanak Sikh Temple ablaze earlier than shifting on to Leith Methodist Church. 

Smoke from the hearth assault on the Sikh temple spewed into the constructing, endangering folks inside, the Excessive Courtroom in Edinburgh heard final month. 

He later confessed to the crime, telling cops he wished to observe the buildings burn down. 

Johnson, 49, admitted two expenses of wilful fire-raising, aggravated by non secular prejudice, on August 28. 

Returning to the court docket for sentencing this week, decide Lord Boyd described Johnson’s actions as “reckless and depraved”.

He mentioned the defendant appeared to have a “grudge” in opposition to faith or non secular authority generally, moderately than a prejudice in opposition to one explicit group.

The court docket had earlier heard that on the night of 27 August, Johnson purchased a container and gasoline price £3.51 from a neighborhood petrol station.

A worshipper travelling to the temple within the early hours of August 28 noticed fireplace had taken maintain on one facet of one of many doorways.

He raised the alarm and the hearth service despatched 11 firefighters who introduced the blaze underneath management.


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Hours later, the caretaker at Leith Methodist Church seen a odor of petrol and burning, however discovered the entrance door had not been significantly broken by a hearth. He later contacted police after listening to concerning the incident on the temple.

CCTV footage from the realm across the church between 12.03am and 12.13am confirmed Johnson approaching the church door, earlier than a flash of sunshine appeared.

He returned on two additional events throughout that point to mild extra paper and throw it in the direction of the door earlier than working away.

Requested about his involvement within the two fires, after his arrest he instantly instructed officers: “I did it,” the court docket at his first listening to.

Advocate depute Alan Cameron instructed the court docket: “The accused was requested as to his motivation for the fires and said that he was trying to make a political assertion, however wouldn’t present additional particulars. When requested whether or not this was religiously motivated he said that he has no situation with any explicit faith however his points are with faith and God generally.”

Sentencing Lord Boyd mentioned: “What is evident is that you just appear to have some form of grudge in opposition to faith or non secular authority and determined to take it out on two close by non secular buildings. You instructed cops that you just had been assured that no-one was within the constructing and that fireplace officers wouldn’t be in danger due to their coaching. You had been in fact improper about folks being within the constructing and your actions did put folks in danger.

“It’s clear from what I can glean about these offences that they had been motivated by a grudge in opposition to faith or non secular authority generally moderately than prejudice or bigotry in opposition to anybody group. Certainly you appeared unaware of the non secular denomination of the buildings themselves.”

Talking after the listening to, Detective Inspector Grant Johnston, of Gayfield CID in Edinburgh, mentioned: “Paul Johnson confirmed completely no concern for the security or wellbeing of these in or round both place of worship when he began these fires.

“Because of a swift police investigation, Johnson was rapidly traced and arrested in reference to the hearth and has now been given a custodial sentence.

“We deal with all hate crime incidents with the utmost seriousness and every time such offences happen, we are going to conduct a radical inquiry to carry these accountable to justice.”

Further reporting by Press Affiliation

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