BRITAIN’S youngest ever convicted terrorist, who led a neo-Nazi cell from his grandmother’s house, has been sentenced to a two-year non-custodial rehabilitation order.
The boy, now 16, from south-east Cornwall, was just 13 when he first downloaded bomb-making instructions. At 14 he had amassed a stash of terror material and shared far-right ideology including racist, homophobic and antisemitic views in online chatrooms.
By the time his home was raided by police in July 2019, he had become the British cell leader of the Feuerkrieg Division, a neo-Nazi group that encouraged members to commit Anders Breivik-style terror attacks and was responsible for vetting and enlisting new members.
One of his five UK recruits was Paul Dunleavy, 17, who was jailed last November for five and a half years for preparing for acts of neo-Nazi terrorism, and with whom he had discussed obtaining firearms. Another recruit, the court heard, was an undercover police officer.
Police raided the teenager’s home, which he shared with his grandmother, on the basis of information that he had been constructing a weapon. No weapon was found, but his phone and laptop were seized and during the search officers found a Nazi flag and a copy of a neo-Nazi text. A Nazi slogan had been painted on the garden shed.
The boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to 12 offences – two of dissemination of terrorist documents and 10 of possession of terrorist material – and was handed the 24-month youth rehabilitation order by Judge Mark Dennis QC at the Old Bailey. He was sentenced by video link from Bodmin magistrates court, where he was supported by his grandmother, who held his hand.
Dennis told him he had “entered an online world of wicked prejudice” and any reoffending would lead to a “spiral of ever lengthening terms of incarceration” to protect the public. However, taking into account the boy’s guilty plea and expressions of remorse, he ruled out custody, saying it would undo the rehabilitation work that was already under way.
He said: “You entered an online world of wicked prejudice and violent bigotry which has no place in a civilised society. You are now 16, coming on 17, years of age and any naivety or immaturity that may have played its part can no longer be put forward as an excuse.
“Any resurfacing of such prejudice or bigotry or engagement in such extremist activity will inevitably lead you in one direction, and that is in a spiral of ever lengthening terms of incarceration in order to protect the public from such conduct. You now have the opportunity to put this behind you and to redirect your future.”
Naomi Parsons, prosecuting, said the defendant’s young age was “alarming” and his conduct “betrays a maturity beyond his chronological age”.
In mitigation, Deni Matthews said the youth was “damaged” and had “sought approval by expressing views he certainly does not ascribe to now and was unlikely to have ascribed to genuinely at the time”. — Guardian 🔺