TWO men who set fire to a mosque met at Hester’s Way Library in Cheltenham and went on English Defence League marches together, a court was told.
Clive Ceronne, 37, and Ashley Juggins, 21, were former members of the controversial group before starting the blaze at Masjid-E-Noor in Ryecroft Street, Gloucester.
Gloucester Crown Court was told yesterday the pair had been driving around and shouting abuse at Muslims on the evening before the arson.
Ceronne was jailed for four-and-a-half years and Juggins for three-and-a-half after the pair pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
Juggins, of Brooklyn Road, in Cheltenham, poured petrol on the mosque’s steps before sparking a rag and setting it alight, causing £3,200 damage.
The blaze came 27 days after the death of Drummer Lee Rigby, who was killed in Woolwich.
Prosecutor Peter Coombes said: “Ceronne used to work for P&L Security and was posted to Hester’s Way Library where they met.
“His previous employer said Juggins told people that Ceronne had taken him to an EDL rally and had expressed anti-Muslim views to his boss, but also said he had changed his views now.”
In mitigation, Dermot Clarke said Juggins was first introduced to the EDL marches four years ago, but had since stopped taking part.
Mr Clarke said: “He left after two years because, in his own words, he describes the meetings as degenerating into no more than throwing things at the police, however he remained in contact with Ceronne.
“I would be doing him a disservice if I did not mention the influence. He was unemployed, lacking sophistication and befriended by an older man that perhaps had an agenda.”
Since being remanded in prison, Juggins was said to have attended church three times a week.
The court was told Ceronne of Redwood Close in Gloucester had been the county’s divisional officer of the New British Union.
The group is said to be styled on Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, which was banned in the 1940s, after it aligned itself with Nazi Germany.
On its website, Ceronne claimed to have been involved in “far right cults, including the EDL”.
Joe Maloney, for Ceronne, said: “He has had time to reflect on his beliefs, which is not to say he will change his beliefs, drastically over- night.”