Preston man encouraged terrorism against Jews and Muslims

Thomas Leech was jailed after pleading guilty to a number of offences

A neo-Nazi who encouraged far-right terrorism against Jews and Muslims has been sentenced to two years in a young offenders institution.

Thomas Leech, 19, posted a “call to arms” and glorified far-right killers online.

Manchester Crown Court heard that after being arrested by police, he told officers: “I am a Nazi.”

Leech, of Preston, pleaded guilty to encouraging acts of terrorism and stirring up religious or racial hatred.

The court was told Leech believed conspiracy theories that Jewish people were planning the “Great Replacement” of the white race through extinction and the “Islamicisation” of Europe.

Joe Allman, prosecuting, said he first came to police attention when he claimed to be planning a shooting at his school in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, in January 2017.

He told police it was a “prank” and received a caution and some intervention.

Leech was referred to Prevent, the Government’s deradicalisation programme, but he “dropped off the radar” when he moved to Gillingham, Kent, in June 2017.

After moving to Preston in 2020, posts by him on an online platform were found by the Community Security Trust, a charity involved in security for Jewish communities.

Mr Allman said: “The cumulative effect of the posts is a call to arms by Mr Leech, inciting others who shared his world view to commit mass murder.”

‘Deeply disturbing’

Leech posted that the Holocaust was a hoax and Jews controlled the world, as well as posting Third Reich imagery and anti-Muslim content, the court heard.

Police found he had posted about Anders Breivik, who murdered 69 youngsters in Norway, and Brenton Tarrant, who murdered 51 people at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.

The men along with Dylann Roof, a white supremacist who murdered nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston in the US in 2015, were talked of in terms of martyrs to the white race, the court heard.

The court heard there was no evidence Leech’s posts had inspired anyone to commit an offence.

Rachel White, mitigating, said some offences were committed when Leech was aged only 17 or 18 and that he suffered from autism, agoraphobia and bullying, which kept him out of school.

She said he rarely left his home, spending his life online and was “effectively became a keyboard warrior”.

But Judge Alan Conrad QC branded Leech’s action as “deeply disturbing”.

Leech, of Derby Road, admitted three counts of encouraging acts of terrorism and two counts of stirring up religious or racial hatred, between March and November 2020.

He also admitted possessing indecent images of children.

BBC News

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