The Independent: White supremacists jailed over ‘vicious’ online messages

White supremacists jailed over ‘vicious’ online messages – Crime, UK – The Independent: “White supremacists jailed over ‘vicious’ online messages

By Mike Hornby, Press Association

Friday, 25 June 2010

Two white supremacists were jailed today after being convicted of posting violent and vicious racist messages on the internet.

Michael Heaton, 42, and Trevor Hannington, 58, described Jews as ‘scum’ and called for them to be ‘destroyed’.

The ‘proud neo-Nazis’ were unanimously cleared of soliciting murder at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday but Heaton was jailed today for 30 months after being convicted of four counts of using threatening, abusive or insulting words likely to stir up racial hatred.

Hannington previously admitted two counts of stirring up racial hatred, two further counts of possessing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism and disseminating a terrorist publication.

He was jailed for two years.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Irwin told Heaton, of Leigh, in Wigan, Greater Manchester, his internet posts were ‘vicious and repulsive’.

He added: ‘You saw yourself as the leader of a potentially significant and active National Socialist group.

‘Your sustained racist rants were intended to bolster that group.

‘You wanted to start a race war.

‘You are clearly filled with racial hatred and also with violent and angry beliefs.’

The judge told Heaton his words were of the most ‘insulting and extreme nature’ marked by ‘violent racism’ and said only a significant jail term was acceptable.

Hannington, from Hirwaun, Cardiff, was described as a loner by the judge, who told him: ‘You are a long standing racist who has never hidden your views, which are violent and vicious in the extreme.

‘You are a lonely man with little in your life.

‘You habitually told lies about a non-existent army career and your knowledge of survival techniques in an attempt to gain status.

‘You are, to some degree, pitiable in this, however repugnant what you said.’

Heaton, a packer for a food company, was jailed for 30 months for each of his four offences, to run concurrently.

He nodded to the judge and said he understood as he was taken to the cells.

He admitted in police interviews he was a founder member of the Aryan Strike Force (ASF), whose goal was ‘the eradication of ethnic minorities from Britain’, the prosecution said.

In one posting on the ASF website, he said of Jews: ‘They will always be scum, destroy ’em with whatever it takes.’

He also wrote: ‘I would encourage any religion or race that wants to destroy the Jews, I hate them with a passion.’

And in another posting he said Jews were leeches and ‘treacherous f****** scum’ and that black people were ‘less intelligent than other species’.

Heaton made more than 3,000 posts on the ASF site between January and June 2008, before he had a ‘bust-up’ with the organisation and created his own, the British Freedom Fighters (BFF).

The website changed its name to Legion 88 and then Wolfpack, before it was closed down.

The trial jury, nine of whom returned to court for today’s sentencing, were told the number eight refers to the eighth letter in the alphabet, H. So 88 stands for HH, as in Heil Hitler, a common greeting for neo-Nazis.

Both men had a number of user names when they posted their comments on the website. Heaton called himself Wigan Mike, and then later Lenny.

David Fish, mitigating for Heaton, said the defendant had been banned from accessing the internet while on bail and was no longer involved in the BFF.

He said: ‘(Heaton) has, in effect, shed the habit and lost interest in putting up these posts.’

Hannington admitted he was an administrator for the ASF, Legion 88 and Wolfpack websites and gave himself the user names Fist, Lee 88 and Paul.

He pleaded guilty to inciting racial hatred with internet posts stating his beliefs that Jews were ‘parasites feeding on others’ and ‘utterly evil sub-beings’.

The self-employed builder also posted the message: ‘Kill the Jew, Kill the Jew, Burn down a synagogue today! Burn the scum.’

Hannington admitted owning the Anarchist’s Cookbook, Kitchen Complete and The Terrorist Encyclopaedia, all of which are considered useful tools to someone preparing or committing an act of terrorism.

He also admitted publishing a post on the internet with instructions on how to make a flame thrower out of a water pistol.

Richard Mansell QC, for Hannington, said: ‘There is a significant element of the fantasist about him and the jury’s verdict accepts the posts were made without a great deal of thought but are, nevertheless, extremely offensive.

‘Having had the terror books he never made any effort to produce such items or seek components for them.

‘He has reflected on the language he used and his conduct and he also recognises he has problems with alcohol and anger management.’

Hannington showed no emotion as he was jailed for a total of two years for all his offences.

As he was convicted under the Terrorism Act he must inform the police of his home address for the next 10 years.

When police raided the homes of both men they found an array of weapons, including knives and firearms.

Heaton’s bedroom was adorned in flags with symbols of far-right movements, and a samurai sword hung above his bed.

Elsewhere around the house officers found numchucks, batons, knives and knuckle dusters hanging on the walls, and a BB machine gun was also recovered at the property.

Flags bearing swastikas were strewn around Hannington’s house and police found a personal armoury including an air rifle and daggers.

Mr Justice Irwin ordered the weapons to be destroyed, along with the defendants’ home computers.

Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Superintendent David Buxton, head of the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, said he respected the sentences.

He added: ‘Today we have seen that voicing violent extremism will not be tolerated.’

Stuart Laidlaw, the Crown Prosecution Service’s Counter Terrorism Division lawyer, said: ‘As members of the ASF, Hannington and Heaton were closely associated with Ian Davison who was recently convicted of terrorism offences and of producing the poison ricin.

‘They enjoyed similar links with his son, Nicky Davison, who was also recently convicted of terrorism offences.

‘We considered this to be a very serious case and on the evidence presented to us by police, the public interest required a prosecution.’

The ASF is the latest in a long line of Neo-Nazi groups with a mission to promote the National Socialist principles of Adolf Hitler, Mr Laidlaw said.

He added the organisation’s members appeared to venerate Hitler and deny the Holocaust.

The lawyer said: ‘Holding unpleasant and offensive views is not illegal.

‘However, people cross the line when they urge others to take violent direct action, especially after they download terror manuals on how to produce explosives – or, as in Ian Davison’s case, ricin.

‘Both juries saw some thoroughly unpleasant material which contained views which most people would find obnoxious and abhorrent.

‘We would like to thank them for performing their duty in these cases.’

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