A right wing extremist convicted of a terrorism offence has been given an immediate custodial sentence after the case was referred to the Court of Appeal.
Ben John (22) of Addison Drive, Lincoln, was convicted of having in his possession a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act in August last year.
During an 11-month investigation, forensic computer investigators had found a hard drive in his possession containing a radical publication originally circulated in the 70s which contains diagrams and instructions on how to construct various explosive devices.
Additionally, John was found to have a neo-Nazi ideology and had amassed 67,788 documents in bulk downloads onto hard drives, which contained a wealth of white supremist and anti-Semitic material, as well as material related to a Satanist organisation.
He was originally given a two year sentence, suspected for two years, at a hearing at Leicester Crown Court on 31 August last year. He was also told to read classical literature and that he would be tested by the judge at review hearings.
Following the hearing, the sentence was referred to the Court of Appeal under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme.
Today, the Court of Appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice found his original sentence to be unduly lenient and increased it to two years’ imprisonment with a one year licence period.
Counter Terrorism Policing East Midlands (CTP EM) Detective Inspector James Manning, led the investigation in partnership with regional and national agencies.
"This was a long and complex investigation and I welcome the court’s decision today to impose a stricter sentence on Ben John, sending a clear message to anyone with similar ideologies that they will be dealt with as strongly as possible," he said.
"Let us be very clear: Ben John is a convicted Right Wing Extremist who was in possession of a document which in the wrong hands could cause incalculable damage. It is illegal to knowingly possess material that could assist in terrorist-related activities, and he downloaded and stayed in possession of that document for a substantial amount of time.
"This was not light reading. There was no mistake that he made which meant he didn’t know what he was in possession of, or how inflammatory and dangerous it was. Today’s sentence reflects the severity of his actions."
The court today was told that he has continued to access Extreme Right Wing (XRW) material online since his original sentence.
Solicitor General, Alex Chalk QC MP, personally presented the case at the Court of Appeal. Speaking after the hearing, he said:
"The Government is committed to confronting terrorism in all its forms, including from the Extreme Right Wing. We remain focussed on disrupting the activities of the most dangerous extremists, supporting those who stand up to their hateful rhetoric, and protecting vulnerable people being drawn into terrorism.
"I referred Ben John’s sentence to the Court of Appeal, and chose to personally present it, because I believed it to be unduly lenient. I am pleased that the Court of Appeal agreed and chose to increase his sentence today."
Assistant Chief Constable at Lincolnshire Police, Kerrin Wilson, added: "The work of the investigative team was key to Ben John’s successful conviction, and I want to thank the tenacity of those challenging the first sentence so that we continue to protect our communities."
There are many factors that can make someone vulnerable to radicalisation. If you’re concerned about a loved one, Act Early and tell us your concerns in confidence. You won’t be wasting our time and you won’t ruin lives, but you might save them. Visit the Act Early website for help and support: ACT Early | Prevent radicalisation.