A Cheshire teenager who downloaded terrorist documents and posted vile racism online described himself as a ‘literal Nazi’. Right-wing extremist Mason Yates, 19, was referred to the counter-terrorism strategy Prevent when he was just 13 – and now he has been locked up for 30 months.
Police found copies of ‘100 Deadly Skills’, which provides instructions on knife attacks and making explosive devices, and the ‘White Resistance Manual’, giving directions on how to carry out ‘mass murder’ in advance of a ‘race war’, on his phone, the Manchester Evening News reports.
Yates, of Elstreet Court, Widnes, developed an ‘unsavoury obsession’ with right wing politics, Manchester Crown Court heard. His lawyer said Yates, who also displayed an interest in the murderer behind mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, spent hours on his computer and became ‘even more isolated’ during the pandemic.
Yates’ vile posts on the Telegram app were revealed after an undercover police officer posed as an extremist. Yates, then 17, was part of a Telegram channel featuring a network of like-minded young people with hateful views.
On Snapchat he said he was trying to convert someone to ‘hate ni*****, gays and Muslims’. In a voice note on Telegram he said the ‘real problem’ was with Jews, and said the British Army is ‘full of ni*****, gays and females who fight for the Jew’.
Yates, who was also found with disgusting extreme pornography – which he also claimed to find abhorrent – downloaded the two terrorist documents from the Telegram channel, prosecutor Philip McGhee said. Police went to arrest him at his home in January 2021, at 7am while he was asleep in a bedroom, where he had a ‘white pride’ flag.
Officers seized his mobile phone and returned it to him a few days later, after it had been wiped and had been restored to factory settings. When officers arrested him again in May, they discovered that Yates had downloaded ‘100 Deadly Skills’ and the ‘White Resistance Manual’ again.
“I don’t think they realise, raiding our houses f****** radicalises us more,” Yates told a friend. He told police had gone down a ‘rabbit hole’ online.
Yates said: “No matter like how far my ideology went, in no point did I ever intend to want to like or plan, never a thing or anything to hurt anyone.” Just a few days ago, Yates made a payment of £39.98 to a website called Knife Warehouse. Prosecutors said there was no evidence available to reveal what he had bought.
Yates, a trainee scaffolder, was first referred to Prevent when he was 13, when a ‘school visit’ was conducted with his parents. Concerns had been raised that Yates had been in discussion with chat rooms with young people of a similar age, discussing how they could defeat ISIS by raising awareness of ISIS activity to protect citizens.
Then when he was aged 16, he was referred to Prevent by his college, who noted he attended class wearing a UKIP bracelet and discussed his political views in a ‘strong manner’. In class discussions, Yates was reported to have said ‘I haven’t got just an issue with Muslims, it’s the whole of Islam’, and ‘I haven’t been radicalised, I would be the one radicalising other people’.
He also said: “I’m as far right as you can be.” The referral was closed after Yates’ father declined help from the authorities.
Defending, Nicola Gatto said Yates was capable of ‘change’ and ‘de-radicalisation’. She said he had no friends at school and became ‘isolated’, spending hours on his computer.
His online network made him feel like he was ‘part of a family’. She claimed that he’d been groomed online and said it could be ‘dangerous’ for him to be jailed where he may come across other more sophisticated criminals.
Sentencing, Judge Alan Conrad QC said: “For some years you have held an extreme right wing mindset, expressing hatred towards a number of minorities, religious, ethnic and other groups. Posts by you have endorsed those who have committed atrocities in the name of such warped ideology.
“Your views are abhorrent to all right-thinking people. You have hate for all sorts of people who have not harmed you and who pose no threat to you.
“What has been seen of you tends to show isolation and an inability or unwillingness to engage with others and form relationships, and, as I have found in dealing with a number of these cases, are a common feature involving young men who – in their own homes – communicate with others of like mind to express their poisonous ideology and enter into very dangerous waters on the internet and via social media, obtaining extreme pornography and texts of which are of use to those interested in terrorism.”
Yates pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing a document likely to be useful to a person preparing or committing an act of terrorism; and possessing extreme pornography.
Following the case, Detective Chief Inspector Clare Devlin, from CTPNW, said: “This was a thorough and comprehensive investigation which has resulted in Yates facing imprisonment for 30 months.
“Today’s sentencing reaffirms our commitment to making sure those who pose a risk to our society will be pursued and prosecuted. Extremists using this kind of ideology can create fear and distrust among our communities and CTPNW is committed to finding those responsible and bringing them to justice.
“Reports of this nature are always taken seriously and we would encourage anyone with any concerns around people expressing extremist views to call the UK Anti-Terrorism Hotline in confidence on 0800 789 321, or alternatively, use the secure online form at Gov.uk/ACT.”