Mum of man responsible for Preston mosque graffiti says her son is 'not racist just a very poorly man'

Diane and Gavin Edghill and the graffiti on the mosque
Diane and Gavin Edghill and the graffiti on the mosque
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The mother of a man behind a graffiti attack on Preston mosques has said her son did not mean to stir racial hatred with his actions.

Gavin Edghill, 47, admitted offences including scrawling offensive words on the Masjid-e-Salaam mosque in Watling Street Road, Fulwood, when he appeared before Preston magistrates.

However, his mum Diana Edghill, 69, today told the Post her son has mental health issues and did not understand what he was doing.

Diana said: “He isn’t racist, he is just a very poorly man.

“He didn’t mean it. He does not understand what he has done, or how serious it is.

“I buy him notepads and pens from town so he can write or draw or scribble to express himself.

“It is silly, he doesn’t mean any harm. He doesn’t understand the bigger situation, such as what has happened in New Zealand.

“When the mosque first opened I visited and signed the visitors’ book to welcome the community.

“We are not a racist family.”

The first graffiti, on a gate post at Masjid-e-Salaam, was reported on Friday. Another was reported on Saturday night followed by a third in the early hours of Sunday.

Gavin Edghill, from Fulwood, admitted 11 offences, including four of racially aggravated criminal damage and racially aggravated public order, in a hearing before Preston magistrates.

Diana said: “The first I properly knew was when I saw it on the television, but I had already had a bad feeling something had happened.

“I can’t express how I felt to hear his name through the media.

“He was only released from a mental health hospital recently, after being admitted in November.

“He hasn’t killed anyone, I can’t apologise for something he did not know or understand he was doing, I can only ask for people’s understanding.”

Diana came to Preston from her native Barbados with her mum and dad, aged six, and regards herself as a Prestonian.

Her dad worked for Leyland Motors while her mum looked after Diana and her six siblings.

Diana became a fashion model, entering beauty pageants around Blackpool and Morecambe, and became the city’s first Caribbean Queen.

She split from her partner, a singer from the West Indies, several years ago and brought Gavin up herself.

She recalls: “When Gavin was around 14, I started to notice things that raised alarm bells.

“He would laugh at silly things, and act strangely, hiding in the garage all day until school had finished.

“He would put rings on his fingers that would become stuck. I knew something wasn’t right.

“He manage to get a job at Goss when he left school, and later in the men’s section of M and S. but he became involved with drugs. As he got older his mental health got worse.

“I believe he was provoked into what he did as he lives in an area with a lot of Asian families and doesn’t fit in, he has been called names.

“Sometimes when he walks down the streets he makes strange movements with his hands, as if he is dancing, and people notice him and sometimes mock him.

“It is upsetting because he is my son.

“Sometimes I have thought about ending my own life because it is so hard to deal with. He just needs help.

“I am surprised that such a poorly man is in court, I think it’s a storm in a teacup. Nobody is hurt.”

Edghill was accompanied by two guards in the dock as his mum watched from the public gallery at Preston magistrates.

The defendant has previously committed robberies and has 14 convictions for 27 offences, though most date back more than a decade.

Prosecuting, Elliott Taylforth said: “In short the defendant has been writing racist graffiti on local mosques.

“In interview he said he’d written on the mosque with a marker.

“In this current climate and events that have happened abroad it’s clear emotions are going to run high between different religious groups.”

He added the damage needed to be cleared professionally.

The court heard one sentence related to boxer Amir Khan being “ knocked out by a n****r”.

Defending, Craig MacKenzie said: “Whilst he is 47, he does have certain difficulties, his mum describes his function as childlike in some instances.

“He doesn’t have any previous racial offences on his record.

“He’s made full admissions, and is very sorry.

“In my submission, he ought not to be locked up.”

The case was adjourned to May 14 for reports and he was remanded into custody, with the bench saying it was for his own welfare.