Teens who wanted to 'bomb London because it isn't English' spared jail

Two neo-Nazis, 16, who wanted to ‘bomb London because it isn’t English’ and ran extremist right-wing group on Telegram after going down a ‘twisted rabbit hole’ in lockdown are spared jail

  • Boy A, 16, admitted founding extremist right-wing group called The British Hand
  • In one post he told members he was planning an attack ‘against the Dover coast’
  • Group included second 16-year-old who admitted sharing extremist propaganda
  • Court heard they had gone down ‘twisted rabbit hole’ during Covid-19 lockdown 
  • Both teens were spared custody after admitting terrorist offences at court today with magistrate saying he changed his mind at 11pm the night before hearing

Two teenage Neo-Nazis who wanted to ‘bomb London because it wasn’t English’ and ran an extremist right-wing group online were spared jail today 

One 16-year-old boy set up the group, called The British Hand, which included a member who plotted a terror attack, it can now be revealed.

The teenager, referred to as Boy A and from south Derbyshire, ran the group from August 5 last year, when he was just 14, on the encrypted Telegram app.

He appeared for sentencing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court alongside another 16-year-old boy – Boy B – who was a member of The British Hand and also accused of sharing terrorist propaganda. 

The court heard previously that the teenagers went down a ‘twisted rabbit hole’ in the first lockdown when they spent a ‘concerning’ amount of time online being radicalised by other young extremists. 

As the self-appointed ‘commander’ of his group, Boy A vetted others in private chat groups where they talked about ‘doing something’ against ethnic minorities, and discussed weapons, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

In one post, he wrote in capital letters: ‘I am planning a(n) attack against the Dover coast where every Muslim and refugee has been given safe(t)y if your interested tell me now.’  

A 16-year-old boy who set up an extremist group which included a member who plotted a terror attack has been spared custody today after admitting a string or terror offences

One member of the group, Matthew Cronjager, was found guilty at the Old Bailey last week of plotting a terror attack after the court heard he wanted to shoot an Asian friend over boasts that he slept with ‘white chicks’.

The 18-year-old neo-Nazi, from Ingatestone in Essex, tried to get hold of a 3D printed gun or a sawn-off shotgun to kill his teenage target, whom he likened to a ‘cockroach’.

Prosecutor Alistair Richardson said Cronjager is facing a jail sentence in ‘double figures’ after being convicted of preparing for acts of terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications on Telegram, having previously admitted four charges of possessing terror documents.

Matthew Cronjager was found guilty at the Old Bailey last week of plotting a terror attack

The cases can be linked for the first time after reporting restrictions were lifted on Thursday by Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring as he sentenced the 16-year-old.

The youngster, who cannot be identified because of his age, pleaded guilty in June to possessing a terrorist publication, disseminating a terrorist publication, and encouraging terrorism, in August and September last year.

Mr Goldspring handed him a two-year youth referral order and a three-year criminal behaviour order after saying he had served the equivalent of more than 18 months in custody while on remand.

He said the facts of the case ‘give rise to genuine concerns about’ the boy but added that a short custodial sentence would ‘serve little or no purpose’ and ‘would be purely punitive’.

He told the boy: ‘I can’t emphasise how close you came to a further period of custody. Until last night I was going to do so.

‘I changed my sentencing reasons at about 11pm last night – that is how close you came.’

The boy received a caution in September 2019 for sending pictures of bombs to a fellow school pupil over Snapchat.

The teenage boys who cannot be named were sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court

He has previous convictions for a hate crime, after threatening to blow up a mosque on January 20 last year, and assaulting an emergency worker, by attacking a police officer who went to his home.

The court heard that he also made a string of phone calls to mosques across London and was twice referred to the Government’s Prevent de-radicalisation programme.

He downloaded a video of the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand, in which gunman Brenton Tarrant shot and killed 51 people, and saved an image of a ‘leader board’ of right-wing terrorists, including the number of people they had killed.

After he was first arrested in September last year, he boasted of being the leader of The British Hand and admitted he was a terrorist, saying: ‘We need something like the IRA.’

Mark Luckett, defending, previously said the teenager has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, saying: ‘It is clear at some point he had been manipulated.

‘The offences occurred during the first national lockdown. (He) appears to have spent a concerning amount of time online, which has unfortunately led him down a twisted rabbit hole.’

Sentencing: Boy A received a two-year youth referral order and a three-year criminal behaviour order while Boy B was handed a 12-month youth referral order at a hearing today

At a previous hearing the boy said he wanted to go to university to study veterinary medicine or zoology, adding: ‘I don’t hold those views and I don’t know how I got to hold those views. That’s not the person I am.

‘I spent a lot of time in my bedroom doing nothing. I think I need to be a normal child again.’

The second 16-year-old boy, from Kent, who was a member of the Telegram chat group, admitted disseminating a banned terrorist publication called the White Resistance Manual by sending an electronic link in August which allowed others to access it.

He was handed a 12-month youth referral order by Mr Goldspring, who said he did not want to interrupt his education.

‘You have a bright future, I have seen your GCSE results,’ he said.

‘You didn’t encourage anyone to carry out acts of terrorism and there is no evidence you planned to do so. You had a subordinate role to (the other boy).’

The teenager had earlier told the judge: ‘I’m really sorry. I will never touch that aspect of belief in my life and I will stop anyone I can from even trying to touch it.’

The number of children arrested for terror offences is at its highest since records began prompting Counter Terror Police to urge families to play their part

By Katie Feehan for MailOnline 

The number of children arrested in relation to terrorism offences has reached its highest level since records began nearly 20 years ago.

The spike has prompted Counter Terrorism Policing to urge parents, friends and family to play their part in stopping the rise of young people radicalised by extremist content.

The Home Office’s quarterly release of statistics revealed there were a total of 181 arrests for terrorism-related activity in the year ending June 31.

Of those 181 arrests, 24 were children under the age of 18, a record high of more than 13 per cent of all arrests, and the largest number of children arrested in relation to terrorism offences since the Home Office started recording these statistics in 2002.

Counter Terrorism Police say under 18s was the only age-group to show an increase in the latest data, which showed an overall decline in the number of terror-related arrests. 

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, said: ‘We are again having to appeal to parents, friends and family to play their part in protecting their loved ones against radicalisation, following another concerning proportion of young people being arrested by our officers in the last 12 months.

‘It is thought that these increases are being driven largely by the sharp rise in young people arrested in relation to online extreme right wing terrorism (ERWT) activity.

‘For the last year, we have warned about the impact that Covid-19 may have been having on the most vulnerable in our society, particularly children and those with mental health issues, as a result of a ‘perfect storm’ of factors which is making them more vulnerable to extremist influence. 

‘But while arrests and convictions may protect society from harm, they do nothing to reverse the worrying trends we are seeing – the only way to do that is to stop people from being radicalised in the first place.’ 

The overall number of people arrested in relation to terrorist activity has fallen significantly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, because Counter Terrorism Police say they frequently use non-terrorism legislation to make arrests and disrupt terrorist activity, and the lockdown period has presented fewer opportunities for officers to do that. 

The Home Office’s statistics show there were a total of 181 arrests for terrorism-related activity in the last 12 months to June which marks a reduction of 49 – or 21 per cent fewer than in the previous 12-month period and the lowest annual total since 2011. 

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon (pictured) has urged friends and family to play their part in the preventing their loved ones from being radicalised online by extremists

The force says research shows parents, family members and friends are the first to see the changes in behaviour which might indicate that a loved one is being radicalised.

But analysis from 2019/2020 data shows just 2 per cent of people helped through Prevent come to the programme because of concerns raised by those who know them best.

‘It doesn’t have to be this way,’ added DAC Haydon.

‘We can help children move away from this dangerous path, but the earlier we catch it, the better chance we have of helping them in the long term.

‘Asking for help is a difficult and emotional step, but we must see it for what it is – action which won’t ruin their lives but may well save them.’

If you are worried that someone you know is being radicalised, visit www.actearly.uk

For help and advice visit www.actearly.uk, or call the national Police Prevent Advice Line on 0800 011 3764, in confidence, and specially trained Prevent officers will listen carefully to your concerns.

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