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Man jailed for Islamic centre attack

JAILED: Geoffrey Ryan

A MAN who carried out an attack on an Islamic centre in Essex has been handed a nine-month prison term.

Geoffrey Ryan, 43, was armed with a knife when he threw a smoke device into the Al Falah prayer centre in Braintree on May 22.

It was only five hours after soldier Lee Rigby was murdered on a Woolwich street, southeast London.

Ryan, of Braintree, pleaded guilty to affray and two counts of possessing an offensive weapon.

No one was injured because of his attack.

After being sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court, detective constable Andy Young, of Essex Police, said: “The incident caused unnecessary fear, not only for the people who witnessed it, but also local residents at a time when emotions were already running high due to the death of drummer Lee Rigby in London.

“Ryan's imprisonment should serve as a warning to others who intend to cause fear and unrest in the community for their own agendas, whether personal or not.

He added: “I would like to thank the members of the Al Falah prayer centre for their support during the investigation and for their continued efforts in which they have hosted local events intended to increase understanding and tolerance within a multi-cultural community.”

There was a spike in reported crimes against Muslims and Islamic institutions in the wake of Rigby’s killing, which is suspected to be a religiously motivated attack.

Two men – Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22 – have been charged with the soldier’s murder and attempted murder of police officers.

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