A former scholar who downloaded virtually 70,000 white supremacist paperwork and bomb-making directions has prevented a jail sentence “by the pores and skin of his tooth” after being informed to learn traditional literature by Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare and Hardy.
Ben John, 21, from Lincoln, a former scholar at De Montfort College in Leicester, has to return to courtroom each 4 months to be examined on his studying, Choose Timothy Spencer QC mentioned. He additionally sentenced him to a suspended two years’ imprisonment plus an additional two years on licence.
John was recognized as a terror threat days after his 18th birthday and was referred to the Stop programme however continued to obtain “repellent” rightwing paperwork, the Leicester Mercury reported. He additionally wrote a letter raging towards homosexual folks, immigrants and liberals.
On 11 August, he was convicted by a jury of possessing data more likely to be helpful for making ready an act of terror, which carries a most jail sentence of 15 years.
Sentencing him at Leicester crown courtroom, the decide concluded his crime was more likely to be “an act of teenage folly” and an remoted incident.
He informed John: “You’re a lonely particular person with few if any true pals.” He mentioned John was “extremely prone” to recruitment by others, however he was “not of the view that hurt was more likely to have been brought on”.
After making John promise to not analysis any extra rightwing materials, the decide continued: “Have you ever learn Dickens? Austen? Begin with Satisfaction and Prejudice and Dickens’ A Story of Two Cities. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night time. Take into consideration Hardy. Take into consideration Trollope.
“On 4 January you’ll inform me what you have got learn and I’ll check you on it. I’ll check you and if I believe you might be [lying to] me you’ll endure.”
He then informed John’s barrister, Harry Bentley: “He has by the pores and skin of his tooth prevented imprisonment.”
Along with the suspended jail sentence, John was given a five-year critical crime prevention order.
The courtroom heard John got here to the eye of counter-terrorism officers in 2018 after he wrote a letter entitled Everlasting Entrance – claiming to be a part of the Lincolnshire Fascist Underground – with a tirade towards homosexual folks and immigrants, which led to extra intensive intervention by Stop and psychiatric analysis.
However in April 2019 he copied greater than 9,000 rightwing and terror-related paperwork on to the exhausting drive of his laptop, including an additional 2,600 a number of months later in August 2019.
He was arrested in January 2020 and later charged with offences beneath the Terrorism Act, together with possessing paperwork on fight, selfmade weapons and explosives.
Lincolnshire police mentioned John had grow to be a part of the acute proper wing (XRW) on-line – a time period for activists who commit felony exercise motivated by a political or cultural view, equivalent to racism or excessive nationalism.
He amassed 67,788 paperwork in bulk downloads on to exhausting drives, which contained a wealth of white supremacist and antisemitic materials.
Spencer mentioned: “It’s repellent, this content material, to any right-thinking individual. This materials is essentially referring to Nazi, fascist and Adolf Hitler-inspired ideology. However there was additionally a considerable amount of extra up to date materials espousing excessive rightwing, white-supremacist materials.”
Bentley informed the decide: “It’s not the prosecution case he was planning a terrorist assault.”
He added: “He was a younger man who struggled with feelings; nonetheless, he’s plainly an clever younger man and now has a larger perception.
“He’s under no circumstances a misplaced trigger and is able to residing a traditional, pro-social life.”