Luke Skelton carried out hostile reconnaissance at Newcastle police stations after writing that he had to ‘fight’ for white people
Luke Skelton, 19, was convicted of preparing an act of terrorism
(Counter Terrorism Policing North-East)
A teenager who wanted to accelerate a “race war” in Britain has been convicted of planning a far-right terror attack targeting police stations in Newcastle.
Luke Skelton, now 19, carried out hostile reconnaissance and wrote a manifesto and “final note” to spread his message after the attack.
He denied preparing acts of terrorism in the year leading up to his arrest in October 2021, but was convicted by a jury at Teesside Crown Court on Tuesday. His plot is among at least 37 foiled in Britain since March 2017, of which over a third were extreme right-wing.
Detective Chief Superintendent James Dunkerley, the head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, said Skelton was not just a teenager with strong views “but a terrorist who wanted to cause serious harm”.
“The defendant’s anger towards society, together with his extreme right-wing views, created a dangerous foundation from which his sinister plans were ultimately built,” he added.
“He was strongly motivated by this mindset, which continued to fuel his actions and his later offending, despite repeated attempts to draw him away from it.”
The former student, who is autistic, told jurors his writings were “fantasia” and that he did not want to harm anybody.
But prosecutors said he held racist, sexist, Islamophobic and antisemitic views, “lionised” far-right terror attacks around the world and saw violence as a way to achieve his political objectives.
In his final note, Skelton wrote that he aimed to “accelerate the coming collapse and racial war” in Britain, when people would die “in the thousands”.
It was drafted in January 2021, months after staff at his school had reported him to the government’s Prevent counter-terrorism scheme.
Prosecutor Nicholas de la Poer QC told jurors that teachers at Gateshead College “became concerned” during the first term of his second year, when Skelton was 17.
A referral was made to Prevent in November 2020, but Skelton did not have his first meeting with an “intervention provider” until the following March.
Mr de la Poer said that in the intervening time, the teenager viewed online material “consistent with ideas of white supremacy and fascism”, researched the manufacture of dynamite and wrote the “final note”.
On 8 March 2021, he wrote: “I simply could not bear to look upon my descendants having known I did nothing as to give them an actual homeland or not to fight.”
The teenager attended the first of eight sessions with a Prevent intervention provider 10 days later, and the court heard that he withdrew from the programme in May 2021.
He continued extremist activity during the period, including downloading a video featuring Adolf Hitler, researching how to make napalm and recording himself making a speech about a coming race war.
Jurors were shown messages written by the defendant on Discord under the name “Adolf Hitler” the following summer, where he called non-whites “backward and savage”, and referred to “subhumans”.
Skelton was arrested on 12 June 2021 on suspicion of possessing documents useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism, but no action was taken.
He wrote on Discord that he was “angry” at himself for not “doing anything” before being arrested, adding: “I feel like a disgusting parasite for not doing something earlier and to become the great man of history this is what I must do just as I planned.”
Skelton continued researching explosives and suggested online that he could target a drag queen or grooming gang members.
He wrote: “F*** this f***ng bullshit I wish I had gone through with the attack and not been debating this shite I have done f*** all with my and never will do I should be f***ing dead”.
Skelton told contacts he was using an online platform to obtain the identities of grooming gang members, to “hunt down these f***ers and behead them”.
He also referred to a drag performer as a “f***ing target” and posted a link to their show.
Mr de la Poer said that his writing about grooming gangs and drag queens on Discord “may have been more for shock value or attention than anything else”, but that at the same time he was privately planning to attack police stations.
“Why he chose to focus on police stations is not a question which is answered definitively by the evidence,” the prosecutor added. “It may be the anger which the Prevent intervention and arrest had generated.”
In a previous session with his mentor, Mr Skelton said police buildings needed to be bombed in order to overthrow governments.
The court heard that the teenager was visited by Prevent officers in August 2021 and refused again to engage.
Days later, he created a new document called “The reactionary British manifesto”, which said he wanted “Britain to become again” and listed policies including restoring the British empire, ensuring “native British” people were at least 93 per cent of the population, outlawing Islam, and abolishing women’s right to vote and gay marriage.
On 10 August 2021, the teenager wrote a note on his phone entitled “brief overview of plan”, including finishing his final note and manifesto, quitting his job and “building bomb to attack police stations”.
The following month, he researched police stations in Newcastle, taking screenshots of aerial views of three premises – Byker, Etal Lane and Forth Banks.
He then carried out “hostile reconnaissance” by taking photos of Forth Banks police station and nearby CCTV cameras.
“He did so because he wanted to attack one or more police stations and he was gathering information,” Mr De La Poer said. “He was preparing for a later attack.”
The teenager was arrested for the second time on 28 October 2021 and charged with preparing acts of terrorism.
His first trial ended when a jury was unable to reach a verdict in May last year, and Skelton was convicted after a retrial on the same charge. Skelton, of Oxclose in Washington, will be sentenced on 19 June.