Police close in on race hate duo
POLICE in Hull say they are close to winning an extradition battle to bring two men back from America wanted for distributing racist material.
Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle fled the country last summer after been found guilty of numerous race-hate offences.
The trial at Leeds Crown Court came after Sheppard's flat in the Avenues area of the city was raided in 2005.
But now, as a judge is set to sentence them in their absence on Monday, Special Branch officers believe they are closer than ever to getting the pair back into the country to face justice.
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Adil Kahn, head of diversity and community cohesion for Humberside Police, said: "I think it is a question of when not if for their return to the UK.
"This has been a lengthy operation, but will on Monday, if the judge decides to sentence them in their absence, be closer to conclusion.
"The US authorities have been great, but we have had to go through the due process. Sheppard and Whittle will be here to face justice for their victims and for the hard work of all the officers involved in this case."
Sheppard, 51, was found guilty of 16 race hate crimes, 11 in July 2008 and five in January 09. Whittle, 41, was found guilty of five race hate crimes in July 2008.
Sheppard, who boasts on his website about being banned from every library in Hull, was convicted for a series of charges relating to publishing racially inflammatory material, distributing racially inflammatory material or possessing racially inflammatory material with a view to distribution under the Public Order Act 1986.
He had been responsible for a website containing anti-semetic views. He also published and distributed a leaflet likening notorious Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz to a holiday resort.
The investigation began when a complaint about a leaflet called Tales Of The Holohoax was reported to police in 2004 after being pushed through the door of a Blackpool synagogue.
It was traced back to a post office box in Hull registered to Sheppard.
A lengthy police operation took place, with several forces across the country working together.
The pair, who have began calling themselves the Heretical Two, after the racist website Sheppard presided over, disappeared to Ireland, then flew to Los Angeles International Airport and surrendered to officials claiming political asylum.
They are currently being held under the Department of Homeland Security at Santa Ana Jail.
On Tuesday a court hearing took place in the US with Sheppard and Whittle addressing the judge. Her Honour Judge Rose Peters reserved judgement which will be handed down in writing.