Racist who fled hate trial caught in America

A racist who fled the country after being convicted of five charges of publishing racially inflammatory material has been apprehended in America.

Stephen Whittle, 41, of Preston, Lancs, had written five offensive articles under the pen-name Luke O’Farrell, which were published on the internet.

He was convicted last Friday after a seven-week trial at Leeds Crown Court, but neither he nor his co-defendant, Simon Sheppard, of Selby, North Yorkshire, appeared when the hearing resumed on Monday.

Humberside Police, who had mounted the case against Whittle and Sheppard, sent out an all-ports alert. Sheppard, 51, ran the website on which Whittle’s articles appeared.

The pair were detained in Los Angeles where they are believed to have asked for political asylum. They were understood to be awaiting a hearing that would decide whether or not they would be granted asylum or be sent back to Britain.

During the hearing, prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford told the jury that Sheppard and Whittle held what they might regard as fairly extreme views about people who were Jewish, black, Asian, Chinese, Indian and, in reality, anyone who was not white. He said: “People in this country are entitled to be racist and they are entitled to hold unpleasant points of view.

“But what they aren’t entitled to do is publish or distribute written material which is insulting, threatening or abusive and is intended to stir up racial hatred or is likely to do so.”

The court heard that Sheppard’s website attracts 4,000 visitors a day.

Other articles on the same site included one written during the 1960s by the leader of the American Nazi Party, George Lincoln Rockwell.

The court heard that Sheppard was investigated by police following complaints and when his flat was searched in March 2005 police seized a number of computers and found documents entitled “Dumb Niggers, Gloating Jews”, “Make Niggers History”, “Diversity = Death” and “Rockwell, the
Swastika”.

Sheppard has been found guilty of 11 of the 18 counts he faced. The jury failed to agree on seven further charges relating to the possession, publishing and distribution of two pamphlets called “Tales of the Holohoax” and “Don’t Be Sheeple”.

The case was adjourned until July 28 when the prosecution will say whether or not it will seek a retrial.

    Last updated: 4:48pm, July 17 2008