A 17-year old boy from Durham has been sentenced at Manchester Crown Court after being found guilty of planning a terror attack. The teenager has been sentenced to six years and eight months in prison.
He was unanimously found guilty of six terror offenses, including engaging in the preparation of an act of terrorism in November 2019. The teenager was arrested in March 2019 following an intelligence led investigation by Counter Terrorism Policing North East in to Right Wing Terrorism.
The jury were unanimous in their verdict, finding the defendant guilty of:
- One offense of engaging in the preparation of an act of terrorism
- One offense of disseminating terrorist publications
- One offense of possessing material for terrorist purposes
- Three offenses of collecting or possessing information useful in the preparation of an act of Terrorism
The teenager, who described himself as a neo Nazi, wrote of his pride as an alpha fascist youth member through numerous online platforms and shared his unhealthy appetite for extreme right wing material with others. He downloaded, read and shared an extensive amount of prohibited publications and literature, not only further developing and affirming his own disturbing views, but encouraging others to share the same.
His prolonged, sustained searches of race-hate material and ‘lone actor’ attacks sought out detail of some of the most shocking and atrocious mass killings from the U.S. and Europe in recent times.
Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden is head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East. He said the case had been a protracted and challenging investigation not least due to the age of the subject.
“The decision to investigate, arrest and prosecute a young person is never an easy one; however we will always take necessary and proportionate action to keep our communities safe.
“Cases such as this highlight the dangers our young people face today online. The negative influence and powerful manipulation that takes place by those who seek to radicalize them cannot be underestimated.
“Prevention is always better than cure, and we would always seek to reach out and engage with people before they are drawn down the path to criminal activity.
“Protecting our young people is not something police can do alone. We all have a part to play in keeping vulnerable teenagers safe from a potentially dangerous path to radicalization. We want to empower all communities to speak out and counter poisonous, hateful narrative to help keep our children and those who are vulnerable safe.
“We need to know and understand what content our young people are reading and engaging with to help to protect them from hate and toxic rhetoric and ideologies. Recognising changes in attitude and behavior which could indicate they have been drawn to the principles and ideologies held by others, and seeking support and advice from professionals could save a young person from a potentially destructive path.
“If concerns about someone’s behavior are raised early, we can, along with our strategic partners look to offer bespoke, appropriate support to help safeguard that individual. Anyone worried about someone they know can make a referral in the confidence that it will be assessed and where deemed appropriate, support offered.
“We cannot escape the use of technology in our modern lives, but we must be aware of the dangers that can surround children and young people when they explore the online world.
“Prevent is the most important strategy we have to safeguard young people from radicalization and it is always better reaching people before they’re drawn into criminal activity. Unfortunately, there are those who elect not to engage and refuse the support that is offered. In these cases, or where their behavior has already gone too far, intervention may no longer be an option and we will take robust action.”