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Jesus/devil fight video trio plead guilty after newspaper tip-off

Vandals who filmed themselves carrying out damage and obscene behaviour are to be sentenced in court, thanks to the Torquay Herald Express.

Scenes included a video of a fight between Jesus and the devil in a church, Torbay magistrates were told.

The Herald Express handed over a disc of evidence to police after it was shown to them by a member of the public.

It published powerful stories, stills from the footage and a plea for help from the public when the videos came to light in February.

  • One of the scenes shown in
    the Herald Express in February
  • The court was told that other scenes showed one of the accused beckoning people over to his vehicle and asking offensive, sexual and crude questions, while their reactions were filmed.

    The videos were posted on the Internet, a move which led to three men appearing in court, variously pleading guilty to offences including public order matters, criminal damage and burglary. All three asked for other offences to be taken into consideration. They were bailed pending probation reports.

    Police thanked the Herald Express for helping clear the “scourge from our streets”.

    Lisa Cassidy, prosecuting, said: “The matter arose after a member of the public sent a disc to the Herald Express saying they had entered a website and viewed homemade video of a man driving round in his car asking obscene questions to people.

    “The member of the public recognised the area as Torquay and said various acts of damage were being carried out in and around Torbay.

    “The newspaper told the police and a search was carried out at the home address.

    “The next day the newspaper said it had found a video of a fight between Jesus and the devil in a church, much to the disgust of readers.”

    The prosecutor said one of the accused was shown approaching several pedestrians including lone females, mothers with children and elderly couples.

    Miss Cassidy said: “Clearly he chose vulnerable people who would not accost him. The newspaper and many readers found the behaviour shocking and disgusting.”

    Other charges related to vandalism of a sea shelter, a box van worth £1,800 and an illuminated bollard.

    In mitigation the court was told that one of the defendants had suffered abuse earlier in his life but the offences were not “typical of him”.

    Another was living rough at the time and he carried them out to get the attention of the police as he was allegedly the victim of a sexual assault.

    The third was a graduate now working as a graphic designer in London, but only had “minor involvement”.

    Acting Inspector Richard Hooper-Bennett said: “I would like to thank the Herald Express for their involvement in this crime because the website was brought to our attention by the paper.

    “Criminal damage, in particular graffiti, is a current priority for Torbay Police and we would like to reassure the public that we treat these incidents very seriously.

    “I am pleased that the courts deemed this serious enough to bail the offenders for pre sentence reports and this goes to show that everyone in Torbay is working together to clear this scourge from our streets.”

    Police say seven offenders were identified for a series of criminal damage incidents across the Bay and the three most prolific ended up in court.