A telecoms engineer who plotted terror attacks on phone, TV and radio masts as part of a plan to “topple the government” has been jailed.
Oliver Lewin, 38, who had claimed he was a “fantasist” during a trial at Birmingham Crown Court, had been found guilty of preparing terrorist acts.
The court heard he carried out reconnaissance of potential targets and sought to recruit others.
Lewin, of Ferrers Road, Coalville, was jailed for six and a half years.
‘Many untruths and exaggerations’
Judge Paul Farrer KC was told during a hearing on Friday that Lewin was “deeply opposed” to the government of the United Kingdom.
Annabel Darlow KC, prosecuting, told the court Lewin believed the government was “dominated by a Jewish elite who took orders from Israel”.
Lewin also was sceptical about the coronavirus pandemic, and believed that the vaccine was being used to kill white people across Europe.
The judge said it was difficult to separate Lewin’s intentions from his “many untruths and exaggerations”, but said he “held an intention to commit an act of terror and took at least some preparatory steps to bring that about”.
He said Lewin attempted to recruit people during a four-and-a-half week period between July and August 2021, using encrypted messaging app Telegram.
He pretended to have worked for the Army to portray himself as a “knowledgeable and brave military man”, the court heard.
During that time, he was also talking to two undercover officers and claimed he was carrying out reconnaissance missions and writing a manual on how to overturn the government.
The court heard Lewin had identified communication masts in Sutton Coldfield, in the West Midlands, Bardon Hill and Copt Oak, in Leicestershire, as well as transport links such as the M1, as potential targets.
In one message he said: “I won’t stop until we take this country and stop it all in its tracks.”
‘Discord, distrust and fear’
Lewin had previously worked as an audio visual engineer for a small company that installed and maintained radio masts.
Prior to sentencing, defence barrister Andrew Hall KC said Lewin had lied and exaggerated in his dealings with the undercover officers as his “personal obsessions simply overwhelmed him”.
Mr Hall said Lewin – who is autistic – had been immersed in a “sinister world of Covid conspiracy” after being “dragged down a rabbit hole” online, but had not caused any damage.
“He is plainly skilled and highly intelligent in some ways,” he said. “He had not put a foot wrong before the Covid lockdowns.”
Sentencing Lewin, the judge said: “At the time of the indictment, you were socially isolated, depressed and lacking in self-worth.
“These features led you into telling many lies about the extent of your terrorist activities.
“Your objective was to influence the government although in reality the prospects of you successfully doing so were remote in the extreme.
“In light of all of the evidence, I conclude that at the time of your arrest your plans were far from complete, and your intended terrorist action was not imminent.”
Lewin was told he must serve two-thirds of his sentence before being able to be considered for parole.
After the trial, West Midlands head of counter terrorism policing Det Ch Supt Mark Payne said: “Lewin claimed he was a fantasist but it is clear he took the steps to carry out reconnaissance of targets to attack, bought equipment and tools, dug hide-outs and tried to recruit and train others.
“Extremists use this kind of ideology to create discord, distrust and fear among our communities and we strive to counter this.”