Violent far-right protests over 'outrageous' sentence handed to man who left bacon sandwich outside mosque

Fiona Simpson
Violent clashes: Police contain demonstrators on Clare Street in Bristol: PA

Violence erupted amid a campaign by far-right protesters over the “outrageous” sentence handed to a “loyal patriot” who left raw bacon tied to the door handles of a mosque.

Kevin Crehan, 34, was jailed for 12 months for being part of a group that tied bacon to the door handles of the Jamia Mosque in Bristol on January 17 last year, but he died in prison in December.

He, along with others, had admitted racially aggravated public order offences in relation to the incident.

On Saturday, around 100 supporters of Crehan, also known as Bunny, gathered outside Bristol Crown Court amid a heavy police presence which included mounted officers and police dogs.

Violent clashes: Police contain demonstrators as far right and anti-fascist campaigners protest in Bristol city centre (PA)

A counter protest attracted dozens more people. It had been due to take place in Castle Park but one bystander said the group had moved closer to the far-right protest.

A message on the Demonstration for Kevin "Bunny" Crehan Facebook event page said "This Demo (is) aimed at highlighting the outrageous sentence handed to a loyal patriot and family man."

One witness said the situation had the potential to "kick off" and that shoppers and businesses had been impacted by the gatherings, with a pub being forced to shut for a number of hours.

Police dogs: Dog units were called in to contain protesters (PA)

He added that police had "kettled" a number of the far-right protesters on Small Street and were preventing them from leaving for their safety.

Avon and Somerset Police issued a warning to the two groups on its social media accounts, banning protesters from bringing certain items to the events.

Banned items include face coverings including masks and scarves, placards that might incite disorder or hatred, and anything that could be used to cause injury or damage.

Sparked protests: Kevin Crehan has been found dead in his prison cell (Avon and Somerset Police)

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Constabulary said there had been no arrests.

He said: "Our main priorities are the safety of the public and the facilitation of peaceful protests. A well-rehearsed policing plan is in place to achieve this.

"We want to keep disruption to the public to a minimum and have been proactively engaging with the protesters, local businesses and the wider community prior to today's events.

"Public safety is our top priority and officers will robustly deal with anyone who engages in significant anti-social behaviour or disorder."