Sentence of white supremacist told to read classsics referred to court of appeal | The far right

Orignally published on 2021-09-28 18:17:22 by www.theguardian.com

The attorney general has referred the sentencing of a white supremacist who was ordered to read classic literature such as Pride and Prejudice to the court of appeal after agreeing with complaints it appeared unduly lenient.

Ben John, 21, a former student who was convicted of a terror offence after downloading almost 70,000 white supremacist documents and bomb-making instructions, received a suspended prison term in August.

John avoided prison “by the skin of his teeth”, according to a judge who instructed him not to research any more rightwing material and return to court every four months to be “tested” on classic literature by Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare and Hardy.

The judge said: “Have you read Dickens? Austen? Start with Pride and Prejudice and Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Think about Hardy. Think about Trollope.”

However, after requests for the sentence to be reviewed, the attorney general’s office said on Tuesday that it was being referred to the court of appeal, the highest court within the senior courts of England and Wales.

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said: “I can confirm that the attorney general has referred Ben John’s sentence to the court of appeal as she agrees that it appears unduly lenient. It is now for the court to decide whether to increase the sentence.”

Among those who called for the sentenced to be reviewed was Hope Not Hate, the anti-racism campaign group, which said it was unduly lenient and sent a dangerous message at a time when the far right poses Britain’s fastest-growing terror threat.

John, from Lincoln, was described by police as a white supremacist with a neo-Nazi ideology.

He was given a two-year suspended sentence at Leicester crown court after his conviction on 12 August of possessing a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

John was identified as a terror risk days after his 18th birthday and was referred to the Prevent programme but continued to download “repellent” rightwing documents. He also wrote a letter raging against gay people, immigrants and liberals.

When he was sentenced, the Leicester Mercury reported that Judge Timothy Spencer concluded John’s crime was likely to be an isolated “act of teenage folly”.

The attorney general’s office was asked to consider John’s sentence under the unduly lenient sentence (ULS) scheme, which covers offences including some types of hate crime and terrorism-related offences.

Orignally published on 2021-09-28 18:17:22 by www.theguardian.com

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