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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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Cumbrian Nazi texts cleaner spared jail sentence

A man who swamped two co-workers with hundreds of racist anti-Scottish and anti-Polish text messages has avoided being sent to prison.

Michael Holden photo
Michael Holden

Related: Store cleaner accused of sending 500 anti-Scottish text messages to boss

Michael Holden, 48, sent an avalanche of messages to fellow employees of Asda at Kingstown, Carlisle, some of which featured a phrase connected to Nazi concentration camps.

Holden, of Main Street, Brampton, pleaded guilty to two charges of racially aggravated harassment at the city’s crown court.

Prosecutor Becky McGregor said that Holden, a cleaner, sent a barrage of abusive messages to his line manager Kenneth McMillan and fellow cleaner Ewa Wismiewski earlier this year.

The court heard that between March 25 and 28 he sent “rambling” texts to Mr McMillan. He later sent a message of apology, explaining that he had a “bellyful” at the time.

And between March 1 and March 30 he sent hundreds of texts to Ms Wismiewski, some of which contained the Nazi slogan ‘arbeit macht frei’ and another offensive phrase. She also received a number of phone calls from Holden’s number, but could only hear heavy breathing.

Miss McGregor drew attention to the use of ‘arbeit macht frei’, which translates as ‘work makes you free’. She said: “The phrase ‘arbeit macht frei’ is a clear reference to the phrase at the gates of Nazi concentration camps.

“They were causing her great distress and a sense that someone was watching her.”

The court heard that many of the hundreds of texts were sent late at night, between 2am and 10am. In some cases identical messages were sent 64 times and 86 times – and in one day he sent 300 texts to Ms Wismiewski.

Judge Peter Hughes QC said: “What makes it all the worse is the way that you were prepared to use cheap jibes and references to his Scottish nationality and in relation to Eva, references to her Polish origins and to the appalling experiences that people suffered in death camps in World War Two. Such conduct simply cannot be tolerated.”

Keith Thomas, defending, told the court that Holden had no previous convictions and had contacted Unity, a drug and alcohol recovery service, following his arrest.

Mr Thomas said: “He has appreciated that there is a problem.” He added that Holden has a decent relationship with Mr McMillan, despite the incident.

Holden was given a four-month sentence suspended for two years, a two-year supervision order, and ordered to pay £350 prosecution costs.

He was also given a five-year restraining order against both victims, meaning he cannot contact them other than for legitimate employment purposes.

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