Widnes teenager detained on terrorism charges

A teenager with an “extreme right-wing mindset who endorsed warped ideology” has been detained for possessing and accessing terrorist publications.

Mason Yates, 19, of Widnes, Cheshire, admitted downloading two documents shared among a chat group on the encrypted Telegram app.

Manchester Crown Court heard they included instructions on how to prepare fireballs and explosive devices.

He was detained for 30 months for the offences between 2020 and January 2021.

The court heard Yates was a college student when he downloaded the documents.

‘Disturbing views’

Sentencing, Judge Alan Conrad QC told him: “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.”

He said he was in a “like minded” group who exchanged “disturbing views” using the encrypted platform which was “very dangerous”.

“It serves to encourage others and only needs one person to take it up for catastrophe to ensue.”

Judge Conrad concluded Yates retains his extremist mindset noting Yates attended a rally featuring far-right activist Tommy Robinson in Telford in January wearing a skull mask, two months after he was charged.

Yates also restored one of the documents to his phone hours after police returned his device and wiped all data from it, the court heard.

Yates had been referred to the government’s counter-terrorism programme Prevent when aged 13 and 16 but did not engage with the initiative, the court heard.

A support worker had reported him after he was heard to have said in class at college “I have not got just an issue with Muslims, it’s the whole of Islam”, “I have not been radicalised, I would be the one radicalising other people” and “I am as far-right as you can be”, the court heard.

Nicola Gatto, defending, said her client was not suggesting he had completely abandoned his views but “he is no longer as immersed in that world” and now works as a scaffolder and has a relationship.

Yates was bullied at school and lost his mother when he was aged 14 and is isolated within his family, the court was told.

Miss Gatto added: “He has spent long periods of time alone exposed to very worrying views on the internet. Part of this offending took place during the pandemic when he was even more isolated.”

Yates, of Elstree Court, who pleaded guilty, received 30 months detention in a young offenders institute and one-month concurrent term for possession of an extreme pornographic image on his phone.

BBC News

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