Two men who smashed the windows of a North East MP’s offices because of her stance on Brexit have been jailed.
Colin Dodds and Alan Dent targeted Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman’s offices in the town in April.
Dodds, 44 and from Bishop Auckland, was found guilty of criminal damage by a judge at Teesside Magistrates’ Court, and sentenced to 12 weeks in prison.
Dent, 50 and from Shildon, admitted the same charge, and was given an 8-week sentence.
District Judge Helen Cousins said:
Two windows were smashed at Ms Goodman’s constituency office on Saturday 6 April, causing damage valued at £866.
The men were ordered to pay £433 each in compensation, and had restraining orders imposed on them.
Ms Goodman supported Remain in the 2016 referendum, and has argued Britain should stay in the customs union. She has been the Labour MP for Bishop Auckland since 2005.
Dent admitted criminal damage, but said in court that he acted alone, after he “flipped out” while arguing with a friend when he was drunk. He insisted the attack wasn’t targeted and claimed they just happened to be walking past the office, telling the court “it’s got nothing to do with Brexit - I don’t even know the woman.”
Dodds pleaded not guilty and claimed he wasn’t involved. A passing car's dashcam footage showed him with a brick in his hand outside the MP’s office. He said he had taken it from Dent to stop him hurting a friend with it. He told the court the attack “wasn’t planned - and I had nothing to do with it.”
The court heard both men were far-right activists who had attended National Action rallies, before the neo-Nazi group was banned in 2016.
Last autumn, we questioned Dodds over his involvement in the local far right group ‘Bishop Auckland Against Islam’, after we found Facebook posts from other members praising acts of violence against Muslims, and suggesting they should be killed. Read more about that story here.