Shane Fletcher: White supremacist jailed for plotting Columbine-inspired massacre in Cumbria

Unemployed ‘loner’ had photographed himself performing Nazi salutes and spewed bile about ‘degenerates’

Fletcher was convicted of planning a killing spree in Workington

Fletcher was convicted of planning a killing spree in Workington

A white supremacist who plotted a massacre in his Cumbrian hometown has been jailed for nine years.

Shane Fletcher, 21, claimed his plans to kill members of the public at a football match in Workington was merely a fantasy.

But Manchester Crown Court heard he had attempted to buy gas canisters for an explosive van attack, and compiled instructions on making pipe bombs and “improvised napalm”.

Fletcher wrote in a journal that on 4 April 2018 Workington would be obliterated – “everything and everyone will be destroyed. I will show no mercy killing you so called humans, I will be doing it with a smirk on my face.”

Judge Patrick Field QC jailed Fletcher, of Wastwater Avenue, Workington, to nine years for soliciting to murder, over trying to convince his only friend to commit the massacre with him.

Fletcher was also convicted of collecting information useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism.

He must serve at least two thirds of his custodial term and will be subject to an extended licence period of four years if the Parole Board considers him safe for release.

The self-described “loner” voiced his white supremacist beliefs and hatred for the people of Workington, who he blamed for school bullying and his inability to get a job, to a probation officer.

Fletcher was being monitored after a 32-month sentence for barricading himself inside a flat and setting it on fire after a row with his brother about his racist views.

He was referred to the government’s Prevent counter-extremism scheme nine months before he was arrested, after telling the officer he dreamed about “shooting up a mosque”, but refused to engage with the programme.

But he was not detained until March 2018, after he started detailing preparations for an attack at the “Uppies and Downies” – a three-stage football match held on the streets of Workington on and around Easter of each year.

Fletcher spoke of how easy it would be drive a van into people into the crowds and attempted to buy gas canisters, saying the only bar to his massacre was a lack of money and weapons.

A journal found under his sofa contained written instructions on how to make a pipe bomb and improvised napalm, while one entry read: “On the 4th April [2018] Workington will be oblitrated [sic], everything and everyone will be destroyed.”

Prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford told the court that despite Fletcher’s extremist beliefs, his “motive was not terrorism but hatred and a desire for revenge”.

“In part, his hatred was borne of his racist belief that people who were Jewish and not white were responsible for his inability to find work and to make any kind of a meaningful life for himself,” he added.

“However, the main source of Fletcher’s hatred was that he had or felt that he had been bullied throughout his teen years and was looked down on and victimised by the people of Workington where he had grown up.

“This hatred was flamed by his own feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy and inability arising from his inability to find work or make any kind of meaningful life or relationships for himself.”

Fletcher’s mobile phone contained photos of him performing Nazi salutes and there were images of the Ku Klux Klan on his iPad.

In police interviews he described himself as a “big fan of Hitler”, after writing in a journal about his hatred of “degenerates” from different religious and ethnic groups, women and gay people.

The phone also contained images of the Columbine High School killers, who he idolised along with Cumbrian mass shooter Derrick Bird and Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, lying dead on the ground.

He told his probation worker and police that he had started watching YouTube videos about serial killers and mass shootings since the age of 13 because he “had not gone out much”, and was excited by violence.

Lee Ingham, of the Crown Prosecution Service’s counterterrorism division, said: “Like the mass murderers he admired, Shane Fletcher wanted to achieve notoriety by committing a killing spree of his own.

“The court found this hate-consumed man to be a danger to the public and it is right he has been sentenced today to a lengthy spell in prison.”​

Fletcher unsuccessfully tried to recruit a friend to join him in the attack after they shared “snuff” videos of murders and mass shootings in Facebook messages.

In one, he told his friend that he had considered killing himself but then decided to go on a “massive killing spree” and the pair discussed methods and weapons, before his friend dropped out.

In his journal, Fletcher wrote about his self-loathing and called himself a “waste of space” and “failed human” who had let his mother down.

“I’m a freak basically have no friends have no job and have no future, been bullied most of my teen years,” he wrote. “I wanna end it all quick while taking others with me.”

Fletcher graphically detailed his desire to murder school bullies and make them “bow to my greatness and die”.

After being arrested, Fletcher denied he was planning a massacre and said his comments and writings were only fantasies from a “lonely attention seeker”. But prosecutors said his documented efforts to procure gas canisters proved his intentions were real.

In January last year, he wrote about efforts to buy or steal propane canisters for “bombs”, and had instructions to make viable pipe bombs and homemade napalm.

A diary entry written weeks before the planned atrocity read: “I have started this diary counting down the days to WM [Workington massacre] witch [sic] will be the most exciting day of my life I plan.”

Mr Ingham said: “Fletcher tried to claim his actions were nothing more than a foolish fantasy but the prosecution proved the instructions for the explosives contained in his diary were viable and could have caused catastrophic damage had they ever been acted upon.”

The Independent

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