A coronavirus conspiracist who distributed anti-Semitic hoax theories has been given an extended jail sentence of more than 12 years.
Matthew Henegan, 37, from St Neots in Cambridgeshire, was found guilty of possessing, distributing and publishing documents to stir up racial hatred.
A pre-sentence report said he was “potentially a very dangerous man”.
Sentencing at Winchester Crown Court, Judge Nigel Lickley QC, said Henegan “created racist material”.
In leaflets and online posts made in March 2020, Henegan claimed Jewish people were behind Covid-19 news stories and “controlled the media”, the court heard.
Residents reported receiving “offensive and anti-Semitic” leaflets through their letter boxes.
These included links to video and audio files posted by Henegan on a website which were racially inflammatory.
Cambridgeshire Police searched his home on 17 April 2020 and found a large number of leaflets.
The court heard a document called Coronavirus Hoax Supplement was posted online on 9 March 2020 which included anti-Semitic themes and admiration for Adolf Hitler.
In a three-hour-long video called Corona Virus Hoax, tagged with the words Corona Virus, Adolph Hitler (sic), Nazi, Jews and Mein Kampf, Henegan spoke to the camera telling people to ignore the coronavirus curfew.
Following his arrest, he described Jewish people as “a bunch of criminals” and claimed Hitler was “clearly a righteous person”, the court was told.
The defendant, who was unemployed and lived with his mother, was ordered to remove a swastika armband during a previous hearing.
He told his trial that he was interested in historical research, particularly Germany’s role in World War Two.
He rejected the “commonly held view” that Hitler began the war, and also that six million Jewish people died at the hands of Nazis.
‘Manipulative and devious’
A pre-sentence report found that he was a “loner, [a] potential threat to society and potentially a very dangerous man”.
Henegan, who refused to attend the sentencing hearing, was jailed for eight years and one month with an extended licence period of four years upon his release.
He was also made subject to a counter-terrorism notification order for 30 years.
The judge said Henegan had previously undergone a mental health assessment after he shot himself with a gun, and he was found to be “dangerous, cunning, manipulative and devious”.
He added that “in the context of the pandemic enveloping the world, you distributed material designed to incite racial hatred”.
The court heard Henegan had previous convictions for inciting a child under the age of 16 to partake in sexual activity, as well as receiving a caution in 2021 for possession of the drug ecstasy, and reprimands in 2001 for assault and possession of an offensive weapon.