A white supremacist who admired Hitler and wanted to “hang the black race” was jailed and released after breaching the terms of his prison sentence by attending a National Front rally.
Lawrence Burns, 25, of Coldham’s Lane, Cambridge, was found guilty of inciting racial hatred in a series of inflammatory Facebook posts in 2014.
He also “shared images of Hitler” and, later on, gave an inflammatory speech at a memorial demo for a US white supremacist.
Burns was jailed for four years, but the sentence was reduced to two-and-a-half-years by the Court of Appeal the same year because of his young age and “poor educational background”.
Cambridge Crown Court heard today (August 1) that after being released, he was spotted at a National Front rally on November 11 last year.
As part of his March 2017 sentence, he was also given a criminal behaviour order (CBO) which prevented him from attending rallies without notifying authorities three days before – which was still active after he was released.
He had not told the authorities he was going to be at the rally.
Burns was then imprisoned for breaching this condition in January this year, and had been in custody since.
A “foolish error”
At sentencing this afternoon, Burns admitted breaching the order – but his defence counsel Adrian Davies told Judge Jonathan Cooper it was not intentional and was a “foolish error.”
Mr Davies said Burns had complied with the CBO by not attending a political meeting after the rally.
In passing his sentencing, Mr Cooper said he was “sceptical” of Burns’ excuse – being the same judge who sentenced him in March 2017.
Mr Cooper said he considered Burns an “intelligent young man” after observing him during the trial.
Addressing Burns, he said: “I am going to impose a sentence upon you which will be a prison sentence which will result as a guarantee in your immediate release. If not today, tomorrow.
“I said to you at the time of the original sentence how important freedom of speech was, and also the expression of political opinions and that the CBO imposed was not in itself designed to thwart the proper exercise of those freedoms.
“It was made clear the CBO did not prevent you from attending political meetings, permission to attend political meetings, it required notice in order to monitor your conduct.
“So I am mindful of the fact that in this case the demonstration wasn’t illegal, nothing said was illegal, nothing said or done by you would have been a criminal offence apart that it breached the order.”
Burns was sentenced to six weeks in prison, half in custody – which he had already served on remand after his initial sentence expired on June 20.
He was therefore released from prison. The criminal behaviour order stood in place.
Burns was handed a printed sheet of the conditions so he could not make the excuse again.