Nasty Michael O’Neill, aged 61, had ‘Hitler number’ tattoo but claimed it was his PIN
A Nazi made a bizarre racist jibe about Taylor Swift and a black child during a hate campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
White supremacist Michael O’Neill, aged 61, posted a picture of the pop star with her arm around the youngster and claimed she could catch Down’s Syndrome.
O’Neill told a court that a tattoo of the number 1488 – linked to Hitler – was nothing to do with Nazis and was just a reminder of his PIN.
He also briefly sang the anthem “Flower of Scotland” from the witness stand during his trial.
The jury saw more than 100 bizarre and offensive Facebook posts and tweets from between 2015 and 2018 at Plymouth Crown Court.
O’Neill, of Redhill Close, Ernesettle, pleaded not guilty to eight counts of distributing written material on social media likely to stir up racial hatred.
He also denied two similar counts of incitement to religious hatred.
O’Neill was convicted by unanimous verdicts after a four-day trial on all the racial counts but cleared on the two religious counts.
Judge James Townsend released him on bail to be sentenced on December 13 with the aid of a probation report.
But he warned: “All options are open. Given his record of racially-aggravated matters, the starting point is an immediate prison sentence.”
The court heard that O’Neill was continually blocked by the social media giants for posting offensive material.
But he created five Facebook and three Twitter accounts under slightly different names so he could go on spouting filth.
He posted a picture of Taylor Swift with her arm around a black child. It included a close-up image of her hand on shoulder.
O’Neill commented: “Don’t touch the little blacky, you might get Down’s Syndrome.”
O’Neill admitted posting a picture of an axe-wielding Viking, but struggled to explain why he had attached the slogan: “It is time to rise up and cleanse our lands”.
O’Neill, who grew up in Birmingham, also posted a message about Pakistani Muslims.
He added: “The entire tribe needs eradicating, wiped off the face of the Earth like wiping s**t off your shoe.”
O’Neill took to the stand to deny that he had a tattoo of the Nazi slogan 1488 – insisting it was his PIN.
He said that he had the ink done years ago because he kept forgetting the number.
O’Neill said he did not know of its significance in far-right ideology until he joined Facebook four years ago.
The ‘Fourteen words’ represent a white supremacist slogan while 88 refers to the position of the letters HH in the alphabet – standing for Heil Hitler.
He said: “I thought it was the date of a battle, like 1066.”
Unbelievably O’Neill sought to explain away twin SS lightning bolts tattooed on his chest, saying they were Norse symbols. He added he was awaiting for a third bolt to be added.
O’Neill had a particular dislike for the London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is Muslim.
He added that he had been involved in a spat on Twitter, saying the Labour politician had called him “every name under the sun.”
But O’Neill posted a story about Mr Khan linking him with rising crime rates.
He added the slogan: “Fetch the petrol.”
O’Neill admitted: “I should not have written it.”
He claimed a mixture of poor memory, ignorance, being drunk and having a dark sense of humour were behind many of his posts.
The defendant admitted he became angry as a former fisherman confined to his home by injury.
O’Neill compared his humour with the edgy satire of Jo Brand – who once called on people to attack Boris Johnson with acid rather than milkshakes.
Seeking to explain why he had posted a message which seems to celebrate a news story of a Scottish man attacking an immigrant, he started to sing the patriotic song “Flower of Scotland”.
He denied inciting anyone to take up violence against racist or religious groups.
Prosecuting barrister Simon Burns put it to him that the books in the house showed that he was well-read rather than naive.
O’Neill replied: “Being well-read does not make you a Nazi, in the same way as voting for Brexit does not make you a Nazi.”
He added that he was not a member of any particular group, but had described himself as a “National Socialist”, which is where the German abbreviation of Nazi originates.