Man jailed for threat to mosque after Rigby killing

Derek Phin urged protesters to burn down Edinburgh's Central Mosque. Picture: Greg Macvean
Derek Phin urged protesters to burn down Edinburgh's Central Mosque. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A MAN was jailed yesterday for posting a Facebook comment suggesting a mosque should be burned down in the wake of soldier Lee Rigby’s murder.

Derek Phin, 46, posted the comment because he believed the soldier’s killers were being protected by the authorities following the attack.

Fusilier Lee Rigby was off duty in south-east London when he was attacked and killed on 22 May last year.

Radical groups then tried to exploit the soldier’s murder – resulting in attacks and protests against the UK’s Muslim ­community.

Phin, of Aberdeen, posted a comment on Facebook stating that Edinburgh Central Mosque should be burnt down on 2 July during a demonstration.

The post on a page belonging to the Scottish Defence League (SDL) read: “Burn the mosque down when the meeting is ongoing.”

The mosque was due to be packed at the time for a meeting organised by pressure group Unite Against Fascism in ­response to extreme right-wing protests.

Police confronted Phin at his home in Aberdeen on 4 September after receiving a tip-off about the comment.

He later admitted making the post online and stated to officers that he was a member of the SDL.

Phin pleaded guilty to posting the threatening and abusive remark with religious prejudice during a previous court ­appearance.

He appeared before Sheriff Annella Cowan at Aberdeen Sheriff court yesterday for ­sentencing.

The former mail-room worker looked shocked in the dock as he was jailed for a year.

Sheriff Cowan said: “Justice in this country is measured and considered. Everyone in this country is entitled to the same freedoms and protections.

“You have abused what you think is your right to free speech to threaten the safety of innocent people in their place of worship because of your mistaken understanding of what they or their co-religionists stand for.

“Nothing other than a prison sentence is appropriate.”

Defending, David Sutherland said yesterday that Phin had led an isolated life with his parents.

He said his client had a “pastime” of looking at examples of extremism online – from 9/11 to the London bombings.

Mr Sutherland said: “The comment came from what he thought extremists had done over a number of years.

“His response was to post this comment. He’s not accessed any of that [material] since this case last called.

“My client accepts it was unacceptable and inexcusable. He has already lost his job because of that.”

Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale were found guilty of the fusilier’s murder at the Old Bailey on 19 December and were given life sentences earlier this week.