A Satanist teenager who idolised Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik and downloaded 11 different terrorist manuals has escaped a jail sentence after the judge heard he was on course to get straight As in his A-levels.
Bristol Youth Court was told the neo-Nazi teenager, who cannot be named, plans to study at Bristol University and will need straight As to get in.
Stephen Donnelly, defending, said the 17-year-old was ‘still on course to achieve high grades if allowed to complete his A-level studies next year.’
The judge was handed letters from both parents, from his head of year at school and an academic progress report.
District Judge Paul Goldspring told the youth he had planned to sentence him to 12 months in custody but had changed his mind.
The judge added: ‘You clearly work very hard in school and are obviously very, very intelligent.
‘Although, I don’t want anyone to get the impression that someone less intelligent should be treated less well.’
He said the youth had downloaded a ‘significant volume of terrorist material accrued over a number of months’ and had talked online about avoiding being sent on the Prevent de-radicalisation course.
A Satanist teenager who downloaded 11 different terrorist manuals has escaped a jail sentence after the judge heard he was on course to get straight As in his A-levels. Pictured: Bristol Youth Court
The teen had documents similar to these which showed how to make poisons, instructions on knife attacks, and the ‘Terrorist handbook’
After his arrest, the youth told the probation officer he had an interest in ‘historical things’ including war, weaponry, and right-wing ideologies. (Pictured, a replica gun similar to what the teenager owned)
The court heard the youth had ‘failed to respond’ to a warning from his school about the views he was expressing, which was shared with his parents.
But he had written a letter to the judge in which he said he understood what he did wrong and his idea of ‘writing research on extremism’ had ‘disappeared due to my distaste for it.’ ‘Much has changed in my life,’ he added.
The youth was stopped at Bristol Airport on December 2 2019 as he and his father were about to catch a flight to his native Poland.
A Samsung Galaxy 8 phone and Huawei tablet, later found at his home, included chat messages from encrypted social media apps including Discord and Wire in which the youth adopted the name ‘Apollo’.
Investigating officers identified thousands of images, pdf books and documents that demonstrated a ‘concerning level of commitment to an extreme ideology,’ Kelly Brocklehurst, prosecuting, told the court.
The devices contained numerous images of the boy performing Nazi salutes, making ‘white power’ gestures, posing with imitation firearms and memes idolising mass killers such as Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011.
The youth had ‘immersed himself’ in ‘Siege Culture’, advocated by a notorious US neo-Nazi called James Mason, that involved the ‘neo-Nazi rejection of all political compromise’, Mr Brocklehurst said.
But he had also downloaded books from a ‘still more dangerous, terroristic doctrine’ developed by an American group called ‘Tempel ov Blood’ that ‘actively celebrates violence and undertakings such as human sacrifice,’ the prosecutor said.
‘Siege Culture and Tempel ov Blood both appear to rely heavily upon an online presence to advance a doctrine of unparalleled extremity,’ Mr Brocklehurst told the court.
When police raided the family home they found the desk in his bedroom had a number of symbols etched into its surface including swastikas and the letters DOTR and a noose, a reference to the ‘day of the rope’ when far right extremists plan to rise up and hang ‘race traitors’.
They found the teenager had a book called Siege in his bedroom by James Mason, the US neo-Nazi, and they also found a skull face covering favoured by the far right, and a skull balaclava.
Bristol Youth Court was told the neo-Nazi teenager, who cannot be named, plans to study at Bristol University and will need straight As to get in (file photo of the institution)
Further investigation revealed the youth was 15 when he started downloading documents showing how to make napalm, plastic explosives, improvised munitions and Molotov cocktails.
He also had documents called the ‘Death Dealer’s Manual’ showing how to make poisons, ’21 techniques of silent killing’ containing instructions on knife attacks, and the ‘Terrorist handbook’.
Two of the documents had been produced by al-Qaeda, including the ‘al-Qaeda Manual’ and a notorious English-language bomb-making document produced by Abu Khabbab al-Masri.
‘The Crown contend that each of the 11 documents charged provides useful and practical guidance that would assist in the commission and preparation of terrorism,’ Mr Brocklhurst added.
After his arrest, the youth told the probation officer he had an interest in ‘historical things’ including war, weaponry, and right-wing ideologies.
A pre-sentence report said the teenager ‘continues to state that he has not read nor is interested in understanding the contents of the downloaded documents.’
But his father told police he ‘clearly remembers’ a discussion with his son about the Anarchist Cookbook and making dynamite, ‘suggesting he has read more than he is willing to accept’.
The judge said the interview with the youth offending team suggested the teenager ‘may not be quite so remorseful’.
‘The pre-sentence report suggests you feel you didn’t do much wrong and you have been harshly treated by the authorities,’ the judge added.
‘In your letter you say very much the other thing, the level of immaturity, you let it run away with you, where does the truth lie?’
The judge told him he could not reconcile the two versions but the youth had convinced him after he was questioned in court.
‘I have to give you the benefit of the doubt but I am not entirely convinced that you are not so articulate that you have pulled the wool over my eyes,’ the judge said.
‘I hope that you go on to prove my scepticism is wrong.’
The judge said he was going to sentence the teenager to 12 months in youth custody, but he had reconsidered.
‘My initial view was to send you into custody for 12 months, I have taken a step back, I am satisfied I don’t need to do that,’ the judge said.
The most important factor apart from his age was that in the 19 months since his arrest, he had not reoffended, the judge said.
Stephen Donnelly, defending, insisted there was an ‘air of optimism for the future and the way [the youth] can be confronted by his actions in the past.’
The youth is ‘very much loved’ Mr Donnelly said and ‘whilst the arrest came as a shock to the family, the family unit has remained strong and solid throughout.’
‘The court can take assurance from the fact there is that network of support in the future,’ he added.
‘He is still on course to achieve high grades if allowed to complete his A-level studies next year.
‘That should be a pointer for the court. Rehabilitation outside the custodial environment is the best course.’
Mr Donnelly said ‘naivety and youthful ignorance certainly played a part in the offending’ and he was a ‘young man who is maturing’.
The blond-haired youth stood in the dock at Bristol Youth Court in a white collared shirt as the judge made a 12-month referral order.
The judge told the court a custodial sentence ‘would not only undermine the rehabilitative and steps but would do irreparable harm to your future’.
‘It is really important that you take this opportunity to pause and think. I have to be honest there will be almost no way out if I see you in court again,’ the judge added.
Detective Superintendent Craig McWhinnie, head of Counter-Terrorism Policing South West, said: ‘Whilst there was no risk to the county, individuals such as this who promote dangerous extremist views and content have no place in our society. We will continue to seek them out and prosecute them.
‘The entrenched views and hatred displayed by this young person combined with their consumption of violent and disturbing literature remain deeply concerning.
‘This investigation is another stark reminder of the hateful and damaging material found online that for all of us, is only a few clicks away.
‘This material creates a very real risk to the young and vulnerable in our communities, in our schools and indeed, in our own homes.
‘This is especially true over the course of the pandemic where young people spend more time online, often alone and unsupervised.
‘We would encourage those who care for young persons to have honest and frank conversations about online activity, to look out for the signs that indicate a potential shift in beliefs or attitude and to be intrusive on occasion to ensure they are safe online.’