A 30-year-old man who posted “vile and hateful” posts against Jews, Muslims, black and gay people on a Russian social media site has walked free from court.
Luke Crompton, of Brindle Street, Tyldesley, Wigan, pleaded guilty to encouraging terrorism recklessly by posting hundreds of messages over nine months in 2018 that were “dripping with hate and contempt” on VK – a site similar to Facebook.
Crompton, who was said to have a low IQ and possible autism, was handed a two-year community order at Manchester Crown Court after the judge heard that he did not harbour racist or homophobic views, and had been “influenced and exploited” online by “unscrupulous individuals”.
Alaric Bassano, prosecuting, told the court: “He posted extreme material – photographs, images and words – expressing hatred and contempt for, amongst others, homosexuals, Jews, Muslims and black people and those that consorted with them.”
He continued: “Many of the posts called for and encourage extreme activity against such people, such as the destruction of the Jewish and Islamic faiths, the torching of mosques and the murder of black people, Muslims and Jews.”
Mr Bassano said the VK profiles “prominently” displayed symbols of, and allegiance to, white supremacy.
The prosecutor added that Crompton appears to have harboured or sympathised with white supremacist views, with his Facebook “likes” featuring numerous causes of white supremacy, prolific viewing of material with racist and white supremacist title pages on his mobile phone and a draft text message containing pro-white nationalist and anti-Semitic sentiments.
But he told the court that all the experts who spoke to Crompton agreed that there was an “obsessional quality” to what he was doing and that his limitations, including social isolation and inability to form friendships and relationships, were likely to have played a part in his actions.
David Bentley QC, defending, described the posts as “hateful”, but said Crompton was “someone who is functioning effectively as a 10-year-old”.
He said the defendant was targeted on the Internet by people he believed had a genuine interest in him and was “adamant” he did not hold racist or homophobic views.
The barrister said: “He did not present as harbouring racist and offensive views and, in my opinion, would lack the intellect and sophistication to conceal them.”
He added: “He is plainly a vulnerable individual who was targeted online by unscrupulous individuals.”
Judge Patrick Field QC told Crompton: “What you did was to post vile and hateful material on a Russian social media site over a period of about nine months in 2018.
“The individual posts were deeply offensive, dripping with hate and contempt for Jews, Muslims and black people.
“They included praise for those who believed in white supremacy and they, in part, encouraged terrorism against Jews, Muslims and black people, encouraged people to kill them, to attack their religions and to burn their religious buildings.”
The judge added: “It is plain to me that you were influenced and exploited online by others who were considerably more sophisticated than you are.”
Sentencing Crompton to a two-year community order with a requirement of 30 rehabilitation days, Judge Field said: “I am advised, because of your vulnerability, you are liable to exploitation and radicalisation that might well occur in a prison environment and this would reduce the prospect of rehabilitation and increase the risk you pose to others.”
Crompton, who was wearing a dark-coloured coat and jeans, left the courtroom with his father and mother, who sobbed in the public gallery as the judge told her son he would not be jailed.