A murderer and a robber who sent crude explosive devices from the segregation unit of a top security jail near York to Asian solicitors as part of a race-hate campaign have had their prison sentences increased.
Bret Atkins, 24, and Jamie Snow, 27, smirked and laughed as a judge at Leeds Crown Court was told how they constructed basic incendiary devices made from crushed match heads in their cells at Full Sutton prison and sent them to Rahman Ravelli solicitors in Halifax and a law firm Nottingham.
Despite Atkins and Snow appearing by videolink from different prisons - Whitemoor and Wakefield - the two managed to exchange smiles with each other as details of their racist messages were read to the court.
Atkins - who is serving a life term with a minimum term of 20 years for murdering a man in Hull in 2009 - grinned even though his barrister told the judge he had converted to Islam since arriving at Whitemoor.
Judge Rodney Jameson handed down a seven-year prison sentence to Atkins, who was found guilty by a jury earlier this year of conspiracy to send an explosive substance with intent to burn.
The judge ordered this to start 18 months before the end of his current 20-year minimum term and said this would have the effect of increasing the minimum term of his life sentence to 22 years.
Snow, who is originally from Leeds, was serving an eight-and-a-half year sentence for robbery, attempted robbery and possessing a firearm with intent when he sent the letters.
He was given an extended sentence of six years and three months after admitting offences of sending an explosive substance with intent to burn and making threats to kill. The judge said the extended part of the sentence meant he will be on licence five years after he is released.
Atkins admitted murdering 35-year-old Simon Ash in Hull in 2009.
A judge at the time said he and another man had “callously and cold-bloodedly” killed Mr Ash, who was walking alone. They kicked him and stamped on his head so hard that an imprint of Atkins’s shoe was left on his face.
Devices were sent by the pair but, the court heard, they were intercepted before they reached their intended targets.
The judge was told that both men had a “shared racial hatred” of Asian people and had threatened to kill Asian prisoners, attack the imam at Full Sutton and burn down mosques.
As well as the incendiary devices, Snow sent threatening letters to solicitors - one including an illustration of how to make a bomb using a light bulb.
Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, said Snow wrote a letter to a probation officer referring to Asian people as “dirty disgusting vermin”.
Prison officers intercepted a letter sent to Rahman Ravelli solicitors from Snow in November 2012 and found a device inside made from crushed match heads and a striking device attacked to the opening flap.
When confronted about it, Snow said “Two out of three is not bad”, according to Mr Sandiford. The prosecutor said he was “claiming he’d already sent another two”.
Mr Sandiford said Snow sent a threatening letter to another law firm, signing it “your neighbourhood Muslim-killer”.
He said prison officers heard Atkins bragging in phone calls that he and Snow were vying to kill the prison imam, saying: “Me and Snowy have got a deal - whoever gets to him first can have an ounce of amber leaf (tobacco).”
The court heard Atkins sent a letter to Carrington’s Solicitors, in Nottingham, containing another incendiary device but it was intercepted. The message included the sign-off: “Ha, ha, ha, boom. I’ve got my eyes on you.”
Mr Sandiford said the pair also conducted a dirty project in the segregation wing of Full Sutton when they daubed threats against Muslims on the walls of their cells in excrement.
But Philippa Eastwood, defending Atkins, said: “He had converted to Islam since he has been at HMP Whitemoor and has been a practising Muslim in the time since he had been there.”
Snow - through his barrister Richard Simons - tried to get the judge to increase his sentence to more than seven years so he could get access to a mental health course in prison to address his personality disorder and other potential psychiatric problems. But Judge Jameson said he could not take this unusual course.
The judge told the pair it was unlikely the devices they made would have caused any more injury than burns to the hands of anyone who opened them.
But he said they “exercised considerable ingenuity in making these potentially dangerous devices out of the materials at your disposal”.
The judge said: “In both cases, you sent improvised incendiary devices by the mail, or submitted them to be sent by mail, to Asian solicitors in the north of England. No injury was caused by any device that you sent. It is difficult to know the extent of the distress that you caused.”
After the hearing, Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Wilson of the north east counter-terrorism unit said: “Bret Atkins and Jamie Snow waged a campaign of hate against innocent people, choosing victims purely on the grounds of their race or religion. They expressed deeply racist and anti-Muslim views and sent a series of threatening letters, designed to instil fear in their recipients.
“Snow and Atkins took their hatred beyond threats to kill and even tried to post explosive materials in an attempt to cause harm or injury. Thankfully this mail was intercepted by vigilant officers within the prison service and was never able to enter the postal system.
“Snow and Atkins may already be in prison, but they will still be held accountable. We will continue to work with the prison service to respond to racially-aggravated incidents and punish those who seek to threaten the safety and confidence of our communities.”
Marcella Goligher, governor of Full Sutton Prison, said: “We are committed to the prevention of crime and are proud of the work our vigilant and highly-skilled members of staff do to detect it.
“These convictions have been secured as a result of strong partnerships, and we will continue to work with the police and the CPS to ensure prisoners who break the law are prosecuted.”