A Neo-Nazi teenager who sent a bomb manual disguised as a Minecraft video game guide to fellow extremists has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.
Connor Burke, 19, had books on Nazis and Hitler’s Third Reich in his bedroom, an SS dagger, racist and anti-Semitic propaganda on his computer, and hate-filled material including a video about the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand.
Anti-terror police raided his family home in Bexleyheath in February last year, after Burke shared a 27-page bomb-making manual with fellow extremists on a Telegram chat group.
The electronic document was named Minecraft_Bow_Ammo_Types.pdf in an apparent attempt to disguise its true nature.
Further terrorist documents, including the Anarchy Cookbook Version 2000, which gave recipes and advice for making explosives, had also been downloaded by Burke and disguised as handbooks to the popular video game Minecraft.
Burke’s barrister, Naeem Mian QC, said the teenager’s “mortified” parents were at Woolwich crown court for the sentencing hearing, and believe he “fell down a rabbit hole” online during lockdown.
“It is every parent’s worst nightmare”, he said. “Through a toxic combination coming together, a young man who is from a very loving background but socially isolated found he was having to stay at home as many people were during lockdown. So the isolation was even greater.
“He was therefore spending too much time on his computer and on the internet, in his room by himself.
“He is a young man who has disappeared down something one would term as a rabbit hole. A very dark rabbit hole which became something of an echo chamber.”
Mr Mian said Burke found a “sense of belonging” in the far right chatrooms and messaging apps, where “what he had to say mattered”.
The court heard Burke downloaded the extremist files between September and December 2020.
He was a member of a Telegram “English Only” group, and had posted a list of the names of fellow university students in September 2020 with the comment “my lectures are full of P***s”.
The following month he shared the bomb manual Minecraft file.
Judge Christopher Kinch QC said material of Burke’s computer, including an image of the teen posing with an imitation rifle, Nazi salutes, and a picture of his dagger nicknamed “Jew Smiter”, showed his extremist mindset.
“You got yourself caught up in some very dangerous activity and you waded in deep”, he said.
The judge noted a letter from the teenager’s parents, calling him a “loving, respectful, gentle young man” who they believe had been motivated to “make an impression” with people he met online, and said he believes Burke has a good chance of rehabilitation.
Burke pleaded guilty to disseminating a terrorist publication and four counts of possession of a document likely to be of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
He will be on licence for an extra year at the end of his three-and-a-half year sentence.