A 14-year-old, believed to be one of the UK’s youngest convicted terrorists, has avoided a custodial sentence despite a judge calling some of his remarks “heinous”.
The boy shared far-right views online, expressed racist views, spoke about a school shooting and wrote several suicide notes.
He was only 13 when he downloaded the anarchist’s cookbook, on the manufacture of plastic explosives and a document on Middle Eastern bomb designs.
The teenager, who cannot be identified by the media, admitted three counts of possessing a terrorist publication during a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in January.
The accused, from the Darlington area, appeared in Newton Aycliffe Juvenile Court in County Durham where the UK Chief Magistrate, Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring, sentenced him.
The judge heard how anti-terror police were alerted after the boy posted on social media that he had blown up an orphanage.
A search of the family’s home led to police seizing his computer, a hard drive and a cell phone, revealing a disturbing story of interest in racist ideology, Nazism, the Columbine massacre, the carrying out of a shooting in a school and a suicide.
Prosecuting Jane Stansfield said the boy was only 11 when he downloaded an image of Hitler to his computer.
An image was recovered of him giving a Nazi salute, the court heard.
The teenager spoke to the judge before his sentencing and admitted his extremist views had grown over time, saying: ‘I became something that was not good.’
The defendant, accompanied by his mother, said he would not do it again, that he had become interested in the school shootings after watching right-wing material and that he knew the difference between online bravado and reality.
In handing down his sentence, Judge Goldspring noted: “Pretty much every minority receives your vitriol and the terminology you used was both disturbing and abhorrent.
The judge said the boy did not have a formal diagnosis of autism but exhibited traits associated with the disease and had complex vulnerabilities and trauma in his past.
The judge ruled that the boy, who hoped to go to college, was not “dangerous” in the legal sense and that the best chance of rehabilitation was if he continued his education.
He imposed a 12-month remand order in which he must work with the Juvenile Delinquency Service.
The judge considered his guilty pleas, that he had not committed an offense since his arrest last year and that the only evidence he was plotting an attack was what he had told others.
Stephen Andrews, defending, said: “You have before the courts a very complex young man showing signs of both extreme naivety and vulnerability alongside elements of sophistication in accessing information that one wouldn’t normally associate with someone his own age.”
After the case, Detective Superintendent Matt Davison of Counter Terrorism Policing North East urged the public to report if they were concerned about extremist views expressed by others.
He said: ‘We know that sharing your concerns may seem like a big step forward, but in many cases the appropriate support will come from education and health professionals and there is no need to involve further. the police.
“The key, however, is to report your concerns early so that we can agree the appropriate support before the situation escalates into something more serious or breaches occur.”