A Nottinghamshire teenager was among four people who were today jailed for being members of the banned National Action right-wing neo-Nazi group.
Connor Scothern, 19, from Arnold, was among a group of three men and a woman who were found guilty following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court on 19 March 2020 after an earlier trial had resulted in a hung jury in June last year.
The most recent trial marked the end of a two-year investigation by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit which had already seen eight people imprisoned for National Action membership, as well as other offences.
Their conviction comes after National Action became the first organisation to be banned by the government since World War II in December 2016.
The jury heard how the group became members of National Action pre-proscription and regularly met to share their extreme ideology and attend demonstrations.
However, when the group was banned, the defendants continued to communicate covertly using encrypted messaging platforms. They held secret meetings to discuss their ambitions for a race war while recruiting other young people to the group, sharing intensely shocking images mocking The Holocaust and glorifying Hitler.
Garry Jack, aged 24, from Heathland Avenue, Shard End, Birmingham was jailed for four-and-a-half years and Scothern received an 18-month jail term. They were told they will have to serve at least two-thirds of their sentence before they can apply for parole.
Head of West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU), Detective Chief Superintendent Kenny Bell said: “We have seen a significant increase of right-wing referrals to our Prevent programme and we will investigate the threat as robustly as we would any other terrorist group, as well as training our officers on the signs to look out for and working with communities to increase awareness.
“Terrorists and extremists use this kind of ideology to create discord, distrust and fear among our communities and we strive to counter this. I would encourage people to report hate crime to us and it will be taken seriously.”
Inspector Chris Pearson, Nottinghamshire Police’s neighbourhood policing inspector for the Arnold area where Scothern lived, said: “We know that a Nottinghamshire resident being involved in this case will be a cause of great concern for some communities within our county, which is generally a place where people from different backgrounds live peacefully alongside one another and help make our county a great place to live.
“The kind of ideology subscribed to by Scothern, if allowed to develop, has the potential to do real harm and clearly Nottinghamshire Police has been following developments in this case and supporting the investigation wherever it can.
“I must be absolutely clear that these views have absolutely no place in our county and that anyone suspected of spreading these views or committing crimes that target people from different backgrounds can expect to be robustly dealt with by Nottinghamshire Police and the organisations it works with.”
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Anyone who has been a victim of hate crime in Nottinghamshire is urged to report this to Nottinghamshire Police direct by calling 101.