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‘They wanted to beat me up … All three of them hit me, kicks and punches, and when I was on the floor there were more kicks and punches’, Dario Antonioni tells court

A trio of drunken racists attacked an Italian barman and told him to “go back to your own country” because they incorrectly assumed he was Muslim, a court has heard.

Shouting “f***ing Muslim” and “Muslim go home” Joshua O’Leary, 23, and Alfred Young, 19, set upon Dario Antonioni in the in Surrey Quays area of east London on 10 June.

He told Inner London crown court that he that he had a beard at the time.

“Due to your prejudice and ignorance and because he had a small beard you all thought he was a Muslim and shouted abuse at him,” Judge Benedict Kelleher said as he sentenced the pair to community service and curfew instead of jail, the Evening Standard reported. “He put up a spirited defence to your completely unjustified attack late at night while under the influence of alcohol.”

He added that a third man, who was not caught, appeared to be the leader in the attack.

Mr Antonioni said he started walking quickly to get away and began to run when a bottle was thrown at him after he exited the Canada Water tube station.

He said: “The three of them surrounded me. I fell to the ground and I was struck everywhere by all three of them. I said: ‘What are you doing? Why are you doing this?’ and I was speaking to them in Italian, but they increased the shouting. They wanted to beat me up … All three of them hit me, kicks and punches, and when I was on the floor there were more kicks and punches.”

He escaped with bruises on his elbows and knees and grazes on his face.

O’Leary denied taking part in the attack but was found guilty by a jury of religiously aggravated assault. He was sentenced to a 12-month community order, 180 hours of community services, 20 days rehabilitation and a night-time curfew for 12 weeks.

Young admitted to the same charge and was handed a 12-month community order with 80 hours community service and a six-week night-time curfew.

They were both ordered to pay compensation to the victim.

The Independent

After members of the neo-Nazi group National Action are jailed we look back at the racist member of right wing groups who was convicted of terrorism in Grimsby

He claimed to be a peaceful right wing activist in Grimsby who wanted to stand up for Britain’s “indigenous” people.

But loner Nathan Worrell was the secret neo-Nazi in Cromwell Street, a twisted racist who was trying to build bombs in his kitchen, inspired by a notorious nail bombing killer.

Even 10-years later, the trial of Worrell remains one of the most dramatic and truly horrifying cases that has been heard at Grimsby Crown Court.

And following the jailing of a cell of neo-Nazis and white supremacists last week for terrorism offences – including a couple who named their son Adolf – the similarities to the Worrell case are stark.

Both cases shone a light into the lives of right wing extremists and why anti-terrorism investigators now believe they hold as much of a threat as Islamist terrorist groups like ISIS.

At first, Worrell’s activities appeared to be limited to a vile campaign targeting a mixed race couple in the Willows Estate.

Officers were alerted after Worrell plastered stickers outside the home of a mother-of-one – branding her a “race-mixing slut”.

Flat full of Nazi literature

He focused his hate campaign on her and her husband, who was Bangladeshi born, and put stickers on the couple’s rear gate and on a lamp post near their home, reading: “Only inferior white women date outside their race. Be proud of your heritage. Don’t be a race-mixing slut.”

But, when police visited his flat in Cromwell Street, a much more worrying picture emerged that was to lead to a full blown terrorism investigation.

At first Worrell refused to let officers into his home but they forced their way in.

Inside, they discovered stacks of racist and neo-Nazi material, including five different types of sticker which had appeared outside the couple’s home in the Willows Estate.

Nathan Worrell was a member of a number of right-wing neo-Nazi groups and had expressed support for Soho killer David Copeland in items seized from his flat in Cromwell Road

Nathan Worrell was a member of a number of right-wing neo-Nazi groups and had expressed support for Soho killer David Copeland in items seized from his flat in Cromwell Road

But it was only then that the true horrific nature of what Worrell was doing became apparent.

There were numerous bomb-making manuals and the raw ingredients to make explosive devices. These included instructions on how to make detonators and what ingredients were needed for bombs.

He had bought fireworks and dozens of boxes of matches. What appeared to be an amateur attempt to make explosives actually used similar methods as neo-Nazi David Copeland, a right wing extremist who killed three people, including a pregnant woman, in a series of nail bomb attacks in London in 1999.

In fact among hundreds of Nazi pamphlets, leaflets, stickers and books was one with a chilling reference to the Soho killer. ‘Stand by Dave Copeland’, it said. ‘Leaderless resistance works. Combat 18 in the area!’

Shortly before Worrell’s arrest, the High Court in London ruled that Copeland should remain in prison for at least 50 years, ruling out his release until 2049 at the earliest, when he would be 73.

Worrell’s hoard of far-right material also included references to Adolf Hitler, the Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan. Extremist groups represented included Combat 18, with the 18 derived from Adolf Hitler’s initials. Other leaflets and flyers mentioned ‘Cleethorpes Combat 18’.

It was later discovered Worrell had also been a member of right-wing groups, the White Nationalist Party, the British People’s Party, the National Front, the Ku Klux Klan and the British National Party. Like Copeland, a fascination with Nazi and right wing ideology had progressed to actively becoming involved with the groups and then researching home made explosive devices and detonators.

Experts told the trial Worrell’s experiments included dismantling the fireworks in a way which could be used to build explosive devices and police suspected he had been starting to assemble a crude pipe bomb in a coffee jar when he was caught.

During the trial, Worrell denied possessing articles for terrorism purposes, including documents for making explosives and incendiary devices, 171 match heads, a large quantity of matches, several tubs of sodium chlorate, fireworks containing black powder, and containers of lighter fluid.

He also denied a racially aggravated public order offence by displaying racist stickers with intent to cause the mixed-race couple harassment, alarm or distress.

The court heard that he held “far-right political views”. When interviewed by police, he described himself as a white nationalist. He said he believed that this country belonged exclusively to white people – and that he was fighting for this country in a peaceful manner.

References to nail bomber David Copeland were found in Nathan Worrell's flat in Grimsby

References to nail bomber David Copeland were found in Nathan Worrell’s flat in Grimsby

But the prosecution claimed: “He was not merely a peaceful right-wing activist. He had more sinister, violent intentions.

“The very nature of the sticker campaign shows this defendant was not merely a collector of extreme right-wing items, but was active in taking steps to promote his ideology.

“He was plainly targeting ethnic minorities as part of his extreme right-wing views,” the prosecution claimed.

Heil Hitler texts

He had far-right political pamphlets and books – much of it Nazi – in his flat and he signed off text messages with “88”, a code for Heil Hitler. “He is undoubtedly a racist who follows the political views of the National Socialist or Nazi Party,” said the prosecution.

There were books giving two recipes for ‘how to make explosives’ and information on how to buy ordinary products which could be used. He had a large number of fireworks, some of which had been tampered with in order to remove the gun powder.

Other books in Worrell’s bedroom covered subjects including murder, contract killers and hit men, arson as a means of attack, guerrilla warfare, leaderless resistance and more references to nail bomber Copeland.

Worrell sent racist text messages to a friend in reaction to watching two television programmes, Crimewatch, and a documentary featuring David Baddiel about compensation owed to the Jewish Community following the Second World War.

He also had a Death’s Head as the wallpaper on one of his three mobile phones. He told police he supported Combat 18 “in terms of some of their policies”, but did not believe in taking violent action. He denied ever specifically ordering material from Combat 18. Some stickers he had, but claimed not to have ordered, referred to a “Cleethorpes Combat 18”.

He admitted distributing stickers for far-right political groups, sticking them on lamp posts and junction boxes around Grimsby. When asked what he thought the effect of such stickers would be on any minority groups living in the area, he said: “I don’t know. I don’t associate with them.”

One text included an image of Adolf Hitler with a halo round him and another attacked the country’s immigration policies and called Britain a “cesspit for scum”.

Just a sad loner, claimed defence

The defence portrayed Worrell as a “slightly sad loner” who had long standing far-right wing beliefs but could not even drive or afford to go to rallies and meetings.

They claimed his activism was limited to “leafleting” and denied there was any bomb plot.

Grimsby Crown Court heard Nathan Worrell had been trying to assemble bombs using gunpowder from fireworks, pictured here, and chemicals in the same way as Soho nail bomber David Copeland

Grimsby Crown Court heard Nathan Worrell had been trying to assemble bombs using gunpowder from fireworks, pictured here, and chemicals in the same way as Soho nail bomber David Copeland

“He is not a terrorist,” claimed the defence, which branded the prosecution case “completely over the top” and accused it of throwing“ everything, including the kitchen sink” at the case.

Worrell did not give evidence at his trial and in January 2008 he was convicted by the jury in less than four hours.

He was jailed for seven years and three months. It included six years for the terrorist offence, with a consecutive 15 months for the racist public order offence.

Judge John Reddihough told Worrell: “Perhaps the least I say about the extreme views you hold and the way we saw you express them in the documents and other items before the court, the better.

“Maybe the citizens of this country are entitled to hold such views but what they are not entitled to do is embark on criminal offences in furtherance of those extreme views.”

He told Worrell: “You were in possession of a large number of instruction manuals for making explosive and other devices that could be used to harm innocent people.

“You were in possession of other items which appeared to advocate the use of violence to promote the extreme right-wing views you held.

“Courts in this country must make it clear that terrorism, in any form, will not be tolerated.

“Any offence which involves any step towards terrorist acts must be firmly punished.”

Right win extremist Nathan Worrell who was convicted of terrorism offences in Grimsby

Right win extremist Nathan Worrell who was convicted of terrorism offences in Grimsby

After the case, it emerged that Worrell was born in Cleethorpes and grew up in Grimsby with his mother and sister. The last school he attended was Havelock School, Grimsby, and he was believed to have worked for a warehouse in the town as a packer. He also had a job picking cabbages.

At the time of his arrest, he was unemployed and was not believed to have held any long-term employment since leaving school.

After the sentencing, the husband targeted by Worrell’s racist leaflets said: “It is not long enough. He will be out in three or four years. He will probably come out and still hold the same racist beliefs.”

Worrell appealed against his sentence which was rejected.

It is thought Worrell was released in 2011 and his whereabouts are currently unknown.

Grimsby Telegraph

A man with “issues” with God and religion who started fires at two places of worship in Edinburgh within minutes of each other has been jailed for four years.

Paul Johnson, 49, told police after he was arrested for the fires at a Methodist church and a Sikh temple that he had wanted to watch them burn down.

Johnson claimed that he was wanting to make “a political statement” but would not elaborate on the details.

Advocate depute Alan Cameron said: “When asked whether this was religiously motivated he stated that he has no issue with any particular religion but his issues are with religion and God in general.”

On Thursday, Johnson – who pleaded guilty to two charges last month, was sent to prison.

Passing sentence, Lord Boyd told Johnson that he had no other option but to impose a custodial term on him..

He added: “Your actions put people at risk. They were reckless and wicked. I take into account that your actions were motivated by a grudge against religion and religious authority and not against one particular religion.

“Indeed, I take into account that you appeared not to know what denominations you targeted.”

Johnson admitted two charges of wilful fire raising aggravated by religious prejudice when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh last month.

He pled guilty to setting fire to the doors of the Leith Methodist Church at Junction Place on August 28 this year by pouring petrol over them and applying a naked flame resulting in charring and burn marks.

He also admitted on the same day setting for to the doors of the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple at Sheriff Brae, in Leith, by gathering combustible material, placing it against the doors, pouring petrol on it and applying a flame with the result that the doors caught fire and smoke penetrated the building endangering the life of inhabitants.

The court heard that the temple priest Harbhajan Singh earlier secured the doors of the premises and went to family quarters at the rear of the building where he stayed with his wife and child.

Before 5 am Michal Kazimierczak walked to the temple with the intention of praying at the entrance prior to going to work and tried to clear what appeared to be litter from the a gap at the bottom of the doors only to discover it was alight and had taken hold.

He ran to the side of the building and alerted the sleeping priest and both men then tried to put out the fire using a bucket of water.

The fire brigade was alerted and 11 firefighters were deployed to bring the blaze under control. Significant burning and charring was seen on the doors and smoke had engulfed the building.

A caretaker at the Methodist church arrived at his work and smelled petrol and burning and saw scorch marks at the gate and steps at the front door. After media reports of the fire at the Sikh temple he contacted police.

Unemployed Johnson was caught on security cameras buying a jerry can and petrol at a BP service station in Ferry Road before midnight on August 27.

He was also seen on footage approaching the front door of the church shortly after midnight and a flash of light was captured.

Johnson was also seen on CCTV approaching the temple with the jerry can and lighting paper and throwing it towards the door. He repeatedly returned to light more paper and a burst of flame was later seen before he fled.

Johnson, who was evicted from his accommodation in the city’s Duddingston Crescent the day before the fire attacks, was found with three cigarette lighters when he was arrested on August 30.

He admitted starting the fires to police. Mr Cameron said: “He further stated that around midnight he walked to the Methodist church in Leith and poured fuel on the doors before using a lighter to set fire to pieces of paper which he threw on the fuel.”

“He stated that a small fire started but quickly went out. He stayed in the immediate area for some time but no emergency services attended,” said the prosecutor.

“He further stated that he then walked around Leith for around 40 minutes and on seeing the Sikh temple set fire to the doors using the same method as before,” he told the court.

Mr Cameron said “The accused stated that his intention in buying the petrol was to start the fire at the Methodist church and that the fire-raising at the Sikh temple was not planned and was only carried out when he came across the building.”

The prosecutor said Johnson was asked what his intention was in starting the fires and said “he wanted to watch them burn down”.

Defence counsel David Nicolson said Johnson was seen by a psychiatrist who confirmed that he was fit to plead.

On Thursday, Mr Nicolson told Lord Boyd that his client hadn’t co-operated with a specialist social worker who had been appointed to write a report into his background.

He added: “I am limited by what I can say. It is very limited. The primary form of mitigation which I can advance is that he tendered a plea of guilty at the earliest opportunity. I would ask you to take that into account.”

Speaking following the sentencing, Detective Inspector Grant Johnston from Gayfield CID said: “Paul Johnson showed absolutely no concern for the safety or wellbeing of those in or around either place of worship when he started these fires.

“As a result of a swift police investigation, Johnson was quickly traced and arrested in connection with the fire and has now been given a custodial sentence.

“We treat all hate crime incidents with the utmost seriousness and whenever such offences occur, we will conduct a thorough inquiry to bring those responsible to justice.”

Lord Boyd said that if Johnson hadn’t pleaded guilty, he would have received a six year sentence.

The Scotsman

Joel Wilmore, 24, is originally from Lincolnshire

Joel Wilmore, 24, is originally from Lincolnshire

An IT worker and former Army reservist from Lincolnshire has pleaded guilty to joining a terrorist group.

Joel Wilmore has admitted being a member of the extreme right-wing organisation National Action, which was banned in 2016.

The 24-year-old called Muslims an “infection on western civilisation”, adding “they deserve the fire and brand just as much as the Jews” during a conversation on Telegram messenger in February 2017.

He was due to stand trial alongside other members of the group at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday, November 12, but pleaded guilty before the court case began.

He will now be sentenced in a two-day hearing beginning on Friday, December 14.

Mikko Vehvilainen

Mikko Vehvilainen

Wilmore will also be sentenced for possession of a terrorist document called Homemade Molotov Cocktails.

The IT worker, who used to live in the county but was not here at the time of the offences, was one of several group members busted by police.

These included serving British soldier Mikko Vehvilainen, who also has links to Lincolnshire, according to the Daily Mail.

Adam Thomas, 22, and Claudia Patatas, 38, were found guilty at the trial on Monday of being members of the group.

The crown court was told the couple had given their child the middle name “Adolf”, which Thomas said was in “admiration” of Hitler, and had Swastika scatter cushions in their home.

Photographs recovered from their home also showed Thomas cradling his new-born son while wearing the hooded white robes of a Ku Klux Klansman.

In conversation with another National Action member, Patatas said “all Jews must be put to death,” while Thomas had once told his partner he “found that all non-whites are intolerable”.

Former Amazon security guard Thomas and Patatas, a wedding photographer originally from Portugal who also wanted to “bring back concentration camps”, were found guilty after a seven-week trial.

A third defendant – a leading member in National Action’s Midlands chapter, Daniel Bogunovic, 27, of Crown Hills Rise, Leicester – was also convicted of membership.

Jurors heard he already had a conviction from earlier this year for stirring up racial hatred after being part of a group that plastered a Birmingham university with offensive National Action stickers.

Thomas, a twice-failed Army applicant, was also convicted on a majority verdict of having a terrorist manual which jurors heard contained instructions on making “viable” bombs.

Adam Thomas, 22, who has been convicted at Birmingham Crown Court of membership of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action

Adam Thomas, 22, who has been convicted at Birmingham Crown Court of membership of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action

Following the lifting of legal restrictions, details can only now be reported of how Vehvilainen, 34, and National Action’s Midlands organiser Deakin, 24, were both convicted of membership back in March.

Both were later jailed at Birmingham Crown Court for eight years and were the first members of the banned organisation to be convicted under terrorism legislation.

Deakin and Vehvilainen, who was thrown out of the Army on conviction, had been members of private chat groups alongside Patatas, Thomas and Bogunovic, discussing the group’s operations.

In a chat involving Thomas, Fletcher, Pryke, Patatas, Vehvilainen and Wilmore, in February 2017 – two months after the ban – Deakin was telling his fellow members: “All Jews need burning – it’s symbolic.”

In another chat, on March 30, Vehvilainen told his comrades: “These things will be decided when we have won the war against the Jews, deported the muds (Muslims), and cleansed our lands.”

During the Thomas-Patatas trial, a photograph was shown of Fletcher performing a Nazi-style salute in the couple’s lounge, as Patatas smiled and cradled her baby.

Bogunovic

Bogunovic

More images from what prosecutors called the “the Thomas-Patatas family album” showed Thomas brandishing a machete in front of a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) flag in the lounge.

Another photo showed him with a powerful crossbow – one of two found inside the house – while police found a makeshift firing range in their yard.

One of the crossbows was found under the couple’s bed, a few feet from the baby’s crib, along with an axe in a sheath.

During two police searches at their home, officers also recovered further weapons from an “extensive” arsenal, including two machetes, one with a serrated 18in (46cm) blade, in their first-floor bedroom.

Alexander Deakin, 24, who it can now be reported was convicted of membership of a terrorist group at an earlier trial in March

Alexander Deakin, 24, who it can now be reported was convicted of membership of a terrorist group at an earlier trial in March

The couple also had a National Action poster stuck to their fridge reading “Britain is ours – the rest must go”, and a pastry-cutter shaped like a Swastika, kept in a kitchen cupboard.

There was also a Christmas card on the sideboard showing three robed KKK figures and the message “may all your Christmases be white”.

In a message to “vehement Nazi” Fletcher, Patatas said “all Jews must be put to death”, while Thomas, originally from Kingshurst Road, Birmingham, told his partner, “all non-whites are intolerable”.

Nathan Pryke

Nathan Pryke

Fletcher, of Kitchen Lane, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, was jailed for a year in 2014 for stirring up racial hatred after posting a video in which he dressed as a Klansman, and hanged a golliwog from a stage at a white supremacy event in Wales.

He was later jailed again for eight months for posting racist remarks online in 2015.

Thomas, a Holocaust-denier, told police he had held white supremacist views from the age of 11, and his stepfather was a member of white power band Skrewdriver.

However, it emerged during the trial that Thomas had travelled to Israel aged 18, where he lived for nearly two years.

He had considered converting to Judaism, he told jurors, despite also telling his trial that he believed the issue of whether the Holocaust happened or not was “complicated”.

Darren Fletcher, 28, who admitted membership of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action

Darren Fletcher, 28, who admitted membership of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action

National Action was banned by the Government in December 2016, as “a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation”, in part because of its members’ support for the killer of MP Jo Cox, Thomas Mair.

In one message, Fletcher had said: “Mair had the right idea.”

During a conversation on Telegram messenger in February 2017, Thomas and Fletcher talked of “bumping off” MPs.

In the same conversation, Wilmore called Muslims an “infection on western civilisation”, adding “they deserve the fire and brand just as much as the Jews”.

Jurors heard evidence of more social media chats involving Thomas, Patatas and Bogunovic, discussing what prosecutors have alleged was National Action’s continuing operation, under a different name.

Pryke, who railed against “Jews” in the chats – and cleared his incriminating message logs every night – spoke with Thomas of a forthcoming “race war”.

Thomas, in a Skype message just days after the ban, said: “F***ing traitors. Midlands will continue the fight alone.”

Jurors also heard how Thomas and Patatas plastered National Action stickers in public locations after the ban, while Bogunovic was calling for a “leadership” meeting in a chat group for senior members in April 2017.

Barnaby Jameson QC, prosecuting, said National Action had simply “shed one skin for another” by “re-branding” in order to evade the law.

In his trial opening, Mr Jameson said: “They were fanatical, highly motivated, energetic, closely-linked and mobile.

“And they all had, we say, a similar interest in ethnic cleansing, with violence if necessary, and the evidence in this case, we say, speaks for itself.”

Trial judge the Recorder of Birmingham Melbourne Inman QC told Bogunovic, Patatas and Thomas they and the three men who admitted membership prior to trial would be sentenced together in a two-day hearing beginning on Friday, December 14, and concluding on the Monday.

Turning to the jury, who deliberated for more than 12 hours, the judge added: “Thank you very much for your hard work.”

The three will be sentenced alongside Wilmore, 24, of Bramhall Road, Stockport, Greater Manchester, and goods drivers Pryke, of Dartford Road, March, Cambridge and Fletcher.

Wilmore will also be sentenced for possession of a terrorist document.

Patatas, who was bailed pending sentencing, left court without comment.

Following the convictions, West Midlands Police chief superintendent Matt Ward said that “National Action, the Midlands chapter… is no more”.

He added: “We’ve been able to dismantle one terrorist cell operating in the Midlands. It doesn’t mean there won’t be others, and it doesn’t mean they won’t adopt different names and identities going forward.”

Lincolnshire Live

A racist yob who performed a Nazi salute at a Manchester rally against antisemitism has been jailed.

Hundreds of people, including MPs and the UK’s chief Rabbi, were among those taking part in the demonstration in the city centre in September.

However, a court heard Joseph Brogan, 27, performed the ‘outrageous and provocative’ gesture in front of them as well as shouting antisemitic tropes.

He claimed he was ‘just expressing his views about Zionism’ but has now been jailed for six months by a judge who said racism of this kind needed to be ‘nipped in the bud.’

Those taking part in the rally were stood in Cathedral Gardens when Brogan approached them, William Donnelly, prosecuting said.

He was heard to shout ‘child killers’ and ‘you people don’t live in Israel.’

“That was then accompanied by him making the Nazi salute, with his extended arm as he walked past and made those comments,” Mr Donnelly said.

He was seen by two security staff who quickly alerted police and he was apprehended at the scene, as captured by the M.E.N’s photographer.

In his police interview he said he was just ‘expressing his view on Zionism’ and that they were ‘just his opinions’ and that he had freedom of speech, Mr Donnelly added.

He said he didn’t remember making the gesture and that if he did he must have done ‘in the heat of the moment.’

However Shirlie Duckworth, defending, said he now accepted that his freedom of speech ‘was not his absolute right’ and that he had caused upset and offence.

She said: “He didn’t attend that rally with the sole aim of causing that offence.

“He was in the city centre and having seen the rally decided to express his opinions on zionism.

“He was now accepts, by way of his plea, his freedom of speech is not an absolute right and that his behaviour caused people harassment, alarm or distress.

“These people were not attending a Zionist rally but an antisemitism rally.

“His actions were not pre-planned, they were impulsive, and although significant were limited in effect as he was quickly dealt with by the police.”

She added he was a high-valued employee at a catering firm and a reference was read by his mum who said ‘you couldn’t ask for a better son’ as he was helping her support his dad, who has bladder cancer.

Brogan, of Lees Street, Gorton pleaded guilty at the magistrates court to a racially aggravated public order offence.

He already has two other convictions for similar offences, the court was told.

And sending him to prison for six months Judge Martin Rudland said a message needed to be sent that, especially in the current climate, behaviour like this wouldn’t be tolerated.

Passing sentence at Manchester Crown Court he said: “This was targeted specifically at members of the Jewish community at a rally which was lawfully convened in this city.

“Antisemitism is an issue currently for those in authority, not only those in charge of law and order but those in charge of political parties.

“This country has a proud history of tolerance and harmony, and by and large we are good at it.

“There have been difficult times for some minorities and these are difficult times for members of the Jewish community, who have a long and fine tradition of contributing to the fabric of this city.

“What you did was express views which are highly offensive and which you must have known were highly offensive.

“Resorting to the Nazi salute which is an extremely provocative gesture and which has no place in our society, to a community who were peacefully demonstrating, is something the courts must take extremely seriously. It was outrageous.”

“This kind of behaviour must be nipped in the bud.”

Manchester Evening News

Thomas - Patatas - Bogunovic

Thomas – Patatas – Bogunovic

Six people have been convicted of being members of the banned extreme right wing neo-Nazi group National Action.

The organisation was formed in 2013 and proscribed as a banned group by the government in 2016.

A jury at Birmingham Crown Court found two men and a woman guilty today after three other men had admitted membership of the group before the trial.

Daniel Bogunovic, aged 27 of Crown Hills Rise, Leicester, Adam Thomas, aged 22, and 38-year-old Claudia Patatas − both of Waltham Gardens, Banbury, Oxfordshire − were all found guilty this morning.

Joel Wilmore, aged 24 of Bramhall Moor Lane, Stockport, Darren Fletcher, aged 28 of Kitchen Lane, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton and Nathan Pryke, aged 27 of Dartford Road, March, Cambridge, all previously admitted their membership.

Wilmore - Fletcher - Pryke

Wilmore – Fletcher – Pryke

They will be sentenced in due course.

All six were arrested on 3 January and charged on 8 January with being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000; namely on suspicion of being a member of a proscribed organisation (National Action) contrary to sec 11 of the Terrorism Act.

Thomas was also found guilty of possessing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism contrary to s.58 of Terrorism Act 2000 (possessing bomb making instructions).

Bogunvic was found guilty of inciting racial hatred under Sec 18 (1) of the Public Order Act 1986 after National Action branded stickers were found displayed in the grounds of the Aston University complex in July 2016.

Joel Wilmore also pleaded guilty to possessing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism contrary to s.58 of Terrorism Act 2000 (possessing bomb making instructions).

Darren Fletcher pleaded guilty to five breaches of his criminal anti-social behaviour order.

The court heard how the group used several methods to disguise their contact with each other such as using pseudonyms through closed, encrypted messaging platforms as well as regularly meeting in person to spread their ideology.

Top to bottom and left to right: Thomas in KKK robes holding son; Thomas with knife; Patatas & Thomas with son; Fletcher, Thomas & Patatas; Thomas & Fletcher; Thomas with crossbow

Top to bottom and left to right: Thomas in KKK robes holding son; Thomas with knife; Patatas & Thomas with son; Fletcher, Thomas & Patatas; Thomas & Fletcher; Thomas with crossbow

Talking about today’s verdict, head of West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, said: “This result is a culmination of two years of painstaking work in the West Midlands and across the country to recognise and understand the threat of National Action.

“These individuals were not simply racist fantasists; we now know they were a dangerous, well-structured organisation. Their aim was to spread neo-Nazi ideology by provoking a race war in the UK and they had spent years acquiring the skills to carry this out. They had researched how to make explosives. They had gathered weapons. They had a clear structure to radicalise others. Unchecked they would have inspired violence and spread hatred and fear across the West Midlands.

“Today’s convictions have dealt a significant blow to National Action. We have dismantled their Midlands Chapter but that doesn’t mean the threat they pose will go away.

“Others on the periphery will take on leadership roles and so I ask for the public’s vigilance − if you see this group’s posters or stickers please report them to police − where there are new cells, we will intercept and prosecute them.”

Two men were convicted and sentenced earlier this year also for membership of National Action − Mikko Vehvilainen and Alex Deakin − however due to legal reasons restrictions were placed on reporting.

Vehvilainen - Deakin

Vehvilainen – Deakin

Vehvilainen − a 34-year-old lance corporal in the army − was jailed for eight years in April. Born in Finland, Vehvilainen was arrested by officers from West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) at his army base in Brecon, Powys in September 2017.

At an earlier hearing, Vehvilainen admitted a separate offence of being in possession of pepper spray.

Det Ch Supt Ward said: “Vehvilainen’s role typified the progress that National Action wanted; he was a non-commissioned officer in the British Army with access to young men who could be radicalised and recruited into the group. He was an incredibly dangerous individual and a key part of the National Action strategy.”

Alex Deakin (24) was also jailed for eight years for being a member of National Action, distributing extremist publications and two charges of possessing documents likely to be useful to a person preparing to commit an act of terrorism and distribution of a terrorist publication.

Top: Vehvilainen pictured performing Nazi salute Bottom left: Deakin and right: Vehvilainen's weaponry

Top: Vehvilainen pictured performing Nazi salute Bottom left: Deakin and right: Vehvilainen’s weaponry

Matt Ward continued: “Deakin had a long history with the far right movement, he held the mantle of regional coordinator to help facilitate online communications in the group. He turned it into a well organised cell in the midlands and as a result he’s serving a long sentence.

“Today’s guilty verdicts highlight the commitment by counter terrorism policing to tackle all forms of extremist ideology.

“We have seen many convictions over the past few years in connection with Syria-related terrorism and this work continues apace. But extreme groups such as National Action also have the potential to threaten public safety and security.

“We work tirelessly to counter terrorism. Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety and security of the people who live, work and visit the West Midlands area.

“If anyone has any suspicions over an individual’s behaviour and suspects them to be involved in this type of activity, I would urge you to report it to police as soon as possible. You can report suspicions online via ACT campaign’s website or call police confidentially on 0800 789 321. In an emergency dial 999.

“Suspicious activity is anything that seems out of place, unusual or just doesn’t seem to fit in with day-to-day life – Let us decide if it is important.”

West Midlands Police

Claudia Patatas and Adam Thomas named their baby Adolf out of "admiration" for Hitler

Claudia Patatas and Adam Thomas named their baby Adolf out of “admiration” for Hitler

Three people have been convicted of belonging to the banned neo-Nazi group National Action. Adam Thomas, 22, and his partner Claudia Patatas, 38, were found guilty with Daniel Bogunovic, 27, of being members of the far-right group – which was proscribed under anti-terror laws after it celebrated the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

The BBC can now tell the story of National Action and the threat posed by its members.

It appeared to be a normal home.

The property, in a quiet part of an Oxfordshire town, was occupied by a couple who had just welcomed their first child into the world.

Neighbours sometimes saw the pair taking their baby out in a pram.

The male, who often dressed in combat trousers, worked as a security guard. The woman – a part-time wedding photographer – had, until recently, worked in a clothes shop.

But inside their house Adam Thomas and his Portuguese partner Claudia Patatas had created a disturbing world.

Adam Thomas

Their bedroom was strewn with weapons – machetes, crossbows, an axe under the bed, a Nazi-style dagger.

In the hallway were pendants bearing a black sun – a symbol associated with the SS and the occult – and the insignia of the Ku Klux Klan. Cushions emblazoned with swastikas decorated the lounge. In the kitchen, there was a swastika-shaped pastry cutter.

The fridge was adorned with a poster by the banned neo-Nazi group National Action, declaring ‘Britain is ours – the rest must go’.

Adam Thomas with his son

A memory card hidden beneath a floorboard under the dining table contained several startling photographs of the couple.

In one, Thomas holds the flag of Nazi Germany, while Patatas cradles their baby. In another, they pose with another man – Darren Fletcher – who is performing a Nazi salute.

Darren Fletcher, Adam Thomas and Claudia Patatas

Darren Fletcher, Adam Thomas and Claudia Patatas

Other images found on a mobile phone show Thomas, dressed in the distinctive white costume of the KKK, looking down at his son through the eyeholes of a white, peaked hood.

The baby, a little over a month old at the time, had been given the name Adolf by his parents – in tribute to the leader of Nazi Germany.

The pictures were found by counter terrorism detectives, who arrived at the property early in the morning of 3 January this year to arrest Thomas and Patatas for membership of National Action – a group that had been banned under terrorism legislation in December 2016.

Alex Davies (l) and Ben Raymond

Alex Davies (l) and Ben Raymond

National Action was founded in 2013 by Ben Raymond, now 29, and Alex Davies, now 24.

At the time Raymond, a recent politics graduate from the University of Essex, and avowed neo-Nazi, was living in Bognor Regis. After university, he had drifted into a job as a double-glazing salesman and would go on to work at a job centre, assisting claimants.

Much of his free time was spent online immersed in disturbing extreme right-wing content. He designed memes, edited videos, and wrote long diatribes, including for the obscure Integralist Party, which was seeking a “nationwide fascist army” for its “racial religion that inspires and demands fanaticism”.

Ben Raymond

It was that online activity that first attracted Davies, a University of Warwick student from Carmarthen, and member of the British National Party. By then, the party was in steep decline from its best ever performance in European elections four years earlier.

The pair believed that in recent years, British far-right organisations had diluted their message by seeking to appeal beyond their core support.

National Action’s founders determined that, in contrast, it would be unashamedly racist and overtly neo-Nazi.

Alex Davies

It had all the characteristics of post-war neo-Nazism – hatred of non-white and Jewish people, a worldview entirely based on racism, veneration of white “Aryans”, and lionisation of the Nazi era and its worst war criminals.

Davies was eventually forced out of Warwick university for his far-right political activities, and moved back to Wales, where he eventually found work as an insurance salesman.

The pair believed young people across the UK would eagerly embrace the group’s toxic blend of Hitler worship, Holocaust denial, and malicious conspiracy theories.

In reality, it would never exceed 100 members, and those it did attract were a disparate set of fanatics united by various deviancies and irrational hatreds.

No attempt was made at engaging in democratic politics, with the organisation instead regarding itself as a youth-based street movement. Its logo was strikingly similar to the paramilitary arm of the Nazi party – the Sturmabteilung, or SA

Recruitment focused on those in their teens and 20s, although some of those targeted were children of secondary school age.

The group’s strategy initially involved leafleting university campuses. But it soon turned to organising aggressive publicity stunts and city-centre demonstrations, with activities chronicled on the group’s website and social media channels.

As it grew, National Action developed into a clandestine network of small, regional networks, with senior figures in each cooperating at a national level.

National Action's regional map

National Action’s regional map

Members, who dressed in black during demonstrations, promoted the idea that the UK was on the brink of a “race war”, and that a predatory elite was deliberately encouraging immigration in an attempt to destroy the native white population.

The group claimed to be patriotic, but was hostile to all domestic institutions, the rule of law, the democratic process, and everyone who did not share its worldview.

Politicians and other public servants were a particular focus of hatred.

During one speech, senior National Action member Matthew Hankinson said they would ensure that “traitors” ended up “hanging from lampposts”.

“We must be ruthless – and if innocent people are cut down in the process, then so be it,” he said.

The organisation was openly genocidal and said that all Jewish and non-white people would have to go. In one document it declared that: “It is with glee that we will enact the final solution across Europe.”

But National Action did not restrict itself to admiration for the Nazis. Its members also took inspiration from the Khmer Rouge, the brutal regime that ruled Cambodia in the late 1970s under the Marxist leader Pol Pot; the radical right-wing Norwegian terrorist and mass murderer Anders Breivik; and even the Islamic State group.

Anders Breivik

Anders Breivik

Online, the group announced: “We are the white jihad” and “Our motto is ‘Long Live Death!’ because only those who are willing to die for their beliefs are truly alive.”

The logic of such ideas ends in violence – and violence, both planned and executed, is what they generated.

In 2015, Zack Davies, a 25-year-old member from Mold, North Wales, used a hammer and machete to attack a Sikh dentist in a Tesco store because of his skin colour.

Davies shouted, “White power” during the assault, for which he was later convicted of attempted murder.

He had earlier posed for a selfie in front of a National Action flag while holding a blade.

Zack Davies

A few months later, Jack Coulson, a then 17-year-old member from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was arrested by counter terrorism police after posting images of a homemade pipe-bomb on Snapchat, along with threats against Muslims.

Coulson, who would be convicted of making explosives, had joined National Action months earlier and was associating with older members both in person and online.

Jack Coulson dressed in a Nazi uniform

Jack Coulson dressed in a Nazi uniform

On the day in June 2016 that Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by the white supremacist Thomas Mair, the teenager took to social media to say: “There’s one less race traitor in Britain thanks to this man.”

“He’s a hero, we need more people like him to butcher the race traitors,” Coulson continued.

An official National Action Twitter account also celebrated the murder, stating: “Don’t let this man’s sacrifice go in vain,” and “Only 649 MPs to go #WhiteJihad.”

By 2016, Christopher Lythgoe, a former regional leader for the North West, was heading up the whole group.

Raymond and Davies remained influential figures in the group, but it was Lythgoe, now 32, who sought to enforce structure and rigour on the entire organisation.

He lived with his parents in Warrington, worked infrequently in warehouses, and spent much of his time trying to turn National Action into a paramilitary-style organisation. He drew up detailed manuals, explained things like as how to carry flags correctly, and sent hectoring emails to other members.

In one, he wrote: “Just a reminder guys that National Action now operates what I like to call a No-Deadweight Policy. That means everyone trains in case we need it. We don’t carry anyone. No exceptions.”

He added: “Imagine what it will be like when we have 20, 30, 50 or more guys who can ALL punch unconscious an 18-stone adversary. AND we will fight as one disciplined body. That’s what I would call formidable unit. So like I said, We all train.”

Lythgoe

Training included boxing, martial arts, and a series of outdoor training camps. One such camp – where participants were expected to “drink mead and live like Vikings” – ended in farce when one neo-Nazi ended up sleeping in a phone box to escape the rain and snow.

One need not consider the group’s paramilitary fantasies realistic to find them troubling and dangerous.

The threat National Action posed came from the hatred it encouraged, which generated a very real threat to the general public and anyone chosen as a target by those it radicalised.

A government assessment in late 2016 concluded the group was “concerned in terrorism”, and described it as “virulently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic”. It became the first far-right group to be proscribed in this country since World War Two.

National Action promoting one of its "conferences"

National Action promoting one of its “conferences”

Ahead of the ban, the group’s leadership came together via a secure conference call, including Lythgoe, founders Raymond and Davies, and regional organisers.

Lythgoe insisted the group carry on as usual – just without the name or more obvious public trappings.

In the days before the ban, he sent his followers a series of emails.

“Long term we’ll keep moving forward just as we have been,” stated one.

Another, sent to the regional leaders, said: “Make sure you maintain contact with ALL your members. Reassure them that they will be personally ok as long as they don’t promote NA from Friday on. Make sure that they understand that the SUBSTANCE of NA is the people, our talents, the bonds between us, our ideas, and our sustained force of will. All of that will continue into the future. We’re just shedding one skin for another. All genuinely revolutionary movements in the past have needed to exist partly underground. These are exciting times.”

One of those on Lythgoe’s mailing list was Alex Deakin, leader for the Midlands.

Less than two hours after getting the email, Deakin used the encrypted messaging app Telegram to create a chat group that became his main regional organising tool for National Action after the ban.

He called it the Triple KKK Mafia, a reference to the Ku Klux Klan. Over time, the chat group would have as many as 21 people in it.

He created another one – called Inner – which contained a select band of seven from the larger chat group.

Deakin

Deakin, now 24, from Birmingham, was a university student who had been radicalised on the internet.

In September 2016, after spending two years studying in Aberystwyth, he dropped out and transferred to a history course at the University of Coventry.

He told one contact his path to National Action involved “getting redpilled by forums, spending years arguing online, and then finally deciding to take action when this group impressed me”.

Deakin regularly reported back to Lythgoe and co-founder Raymond, telling them about his efforts to recruit new members, organise existing ones, and spread National Action propaganda.

Alex Deakin

Messages in the year before the ban show the extent of his delusional ambitions.

In an exchange about targeting working class cities, he wrote: “We should move to radicalise these areas, turning them into NI [Northern Irish] style sectarian ghettoes would be the first target to fermenting race war.”

In correspondence with Lythgoe, Deakin stated: “Like the IRA and Viet Cong we’d need to have embedded local support among the communities we’d fight in; streets and cul-de-sacs would function as barracks as supportive locals would shelter us, and it would be necessary to fade into the background at moment’s notice.”

The nature of such conversations only intensified once the group had been proscribed.

In the Midlands, the organisation ceased overt campaigning, but members continued to communicate, meet up, seek new recruits, and encourage one another’s worst tendencies.

There were explicit references to the the fact that National Action still existed.

In one message, Deakin said: “Anyway the Midlands group continues under the name Triple K Mafia.”

In another, Adam Thomas wrote: “So since NA has been destroyed, the leadership generally of NA agreed it’s to be disbanded. No attempt at revival. But the Midlands branch of NA, which is just 17-20 of us, have decided to ignore this… Midlands will continue the fight alone.”

Messages in the Telegram group, numbering in the thousands, show members using violent racist language, discussing their desire for a “race war”, and fantasising about the murder of those they hated.

Deakin wrote that all Jewish people should be “burned”, and that Chinese and black people should be turned into “biofuel”.

A member from Wolverhampton, Darren Fletcher, 28, referred to Thomas Mair, the killer of Jo Cox, when he asked: “Why aren’t there more Mairs out there? We need a good few hundred of them to sort out these anti-white MPs.”

Darren Fletcher and Adam Thomas

Darren Fletcher and Adam Thomas

Fletcher, a truck driver and old friend of Adam Thomas, had once been jailed after posting videos on YouTube of himself on stage at an extremist music event dressed in a KKK outfit, hanging a life-sized golliwog doll from a noose.

When Fletcher wrote that people in government should be killed, he received support from Thomas, who said: “I agree bump them off but there’s 600MPs unless you take them all down in one go they will just replace each other.”

Claudia Patatas, who studied to postgraduate level in Portugal before moving to the UK over a decade ago, had spent years as a marketing professional.

In public she provided bland quotes to corporate journals, while in private she wrote messages exclaiming: “All Jews must be put to death” and “bring back those concentration camps.”

Claudia Patatas and a KKK flag in her home

Claudia Patatas and a KKK flag in her home

She told members of the group that “Adolf is life” and was enthusiastic about holding a celebration for Hitler’s birthday, recalling one she had attended in Lisbon years earlier.

“We had a cake with the fuhrer face,” she described, before adding, “I did struggle to slice his face

Perhaps the most dangerous member of the group was a serving lance corporal in the British Army.

Mikko Vehvilainen, now 34, joined the Army in 2012, having earlier spent time in the navy in Finland, the homeland of his father.

In an email to one friend, he wrote: “I’m only in to learn useful combat skills.”

The married father of young children, an adherent of a white supremacist interpretation of Christianity called Christian Identity, was a senior National Action member obsessed with ideas about the collapse of civilisation and racial war.

Mikko Vehvilainen

Mikko Vehvilainen

n a diary entry last year, beneath the heading “key points for leadership meeting”, he referred to “later stages terrorism, civil disorder, destruction of infrastructure and power grid”.

In another document, he said there a was a need to be “prepared to fight and die for your race in a possible last stand for our survival”.

“Every part of me wants war. There is no other way,” he wrote in one message on Telegram.

His personal weapons collection, stockpiled for what he appeared to regard as imminent conflicts, included legally held firearms – as well as knives, machetes, knuckle dusters, a crossbow, a bow and arrow, pepper spray, handcuffs, and a so-called war hammer bearing the Biblical inscription: “There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked.”

Weapons found at Vehvilainen's home - and photo of him performing a Nazi salute

Weapons found at Vehvilainen’s home – and photo of him performing a Nazi salute

The solider, latterly based at the Army’s Welsh headquarters in Powys, actively sought recruits from those serving under him in the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Three men holding the rank of private were invited into the main Telegram group after Vehvilainen told Deakin they were “committed” Nazis.

One of them, Mark Barrett, wrote racist messages in the chat group, and had Vehvilainen, another of the soldiers, and a National Action member called Nathan Pryke, over to his army property where they spent an evening firing arrows at a burning cross in the back garden.

Vehvilainen, who served in Afghanistan, was also keen that civilian neo-Nazis join him in the forces, telling them: “If we get enough of us into the Army, we’ll be in the right place when things start to collapse.”

He wrote in the Inner chat group that National Action members should focus on gaining “military and key civil positions”.

Nathan Pryke

Nathan Pryke

Four National Action members in his circle had been, or were, attempting to join the Army: Alex Deakin, Adam Thomas, Nathan Pryke, a 27-year-old a van driver from Cambridgeshire, and Joel Wilmore, 24, originally from Lincolnshire, who had served in the Territorial Army before entering a sensitive job as an information security expert. This involved acting as an “ethical hacker” in order to test the strength of organisational IT systems.

Vehvilainen advised Thomas and offered to act as a referee of good character.

Thomas, in turn, asked if he could buy a gun from Vehvilainen and whether anybody would notice if assault rifles were stolen from his base.

But, before anything more could happen, the group was disrupted.

For several months, detectives from West Midlands Police had been investigating an incident in July 2016 during which several men had pasted National Action stickers at the Aston University campus in Birmingham.

In spring 2017, some of the suspects were arrested, including Alex Deakin.

Incriminating chat groups were found on his phone, and that of another man who cannot be named for legal reasons.

After being released under investigation, Deakin sent a panicked email to several National Action contacts. “My seized phone is full of texts that will mark me as an organizer,” he wrote. “I understand if you despise me for this sloppiness (it really couldn’t have been worse if I tried).”

Alex Deakin

Alex Deakin

Deakin’s “sloppiness” led to three trials at Birmingham Crown Court this year, many details of which can only be reported now that the final one has concluded.

The first, which ended in April, saw Deakin himself, Vehvilainen and soldier Mark Barrett strand trial accused of National Action membership.

Barrett was acquitted, but his co-defendants were convicted and received eight-year prison sentences.

The three had been arrested in September 2017, along with the other two soldiers in the chat group, both of whom were released without charge.

Only Barrett elected to give evidence, telling the court that he had not joined National Action despite being in the Telegram chat group and that he regretted his racist postings.

Mikko Vehvilainen

Mikko Vehvilainen

Deakin was also convicted of two counts of possessing documents useful to someone preparing an act of terrorism – including bomb-making manuals and an instructional book for white extremists – which were found on his laptop.

He was further convicted of distributing a terrorist publication, for sending a document called Ethnic Cleansing Operations to the National Action co-founder Ben Raymond and two other contacts.

Vehvilainen was cleared of stirring up racial hatred for using a Christian Identity online forum to write posts. Among other things, he wrote: “I have vowed to fight the Jew forever in any way possible,” and used the word “beasts” to refer to black people.

Referring to his position in the Army, he had written: “There are ways around everything and I’ve simply learned to avoid beasts.”

He added: “The sooner they’re eliminated the better.”

It is understood that both Vehvilainen and Barrett have since been discharged from the Army. The other two arrested soldiers were disciplined but not discharged, although one has since left voluntarily.

Lt Col Jackie Fletcher, from the Army personnel branch, described them as “exceptional cases”.

“These are very rare in the Army,” she said. “The Army’s value and standards are very clear for soldiers and any individual found to breach those value and standards will have action taken against them.”

The second trial, which ended in May, saw Deakin and three other men convicted of stirring up racial hatred in relation to the sticker campaign at Aston University – Daniel Bogunovic, 27, a warehouse worker and beekeeper from Leicester, Chad Wiliams-Allen, 27, a pre-ban National Action member and welder from West Bromwich, as well as a man in his early 20s who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Chad Williams-Allen, Daniel Bogunovic and Alex Deakin

Chad Williams-Allen, Daniel Bogunovic and Alex Deakin

In the third trial, that of Thomas, Patatas and Bogunovic, three other defendants pleaded guilty to membership of National Action in pre-trial hearings. They were Darren Fletcher, Nathan Pryke, and Joel Wilmore. Wilmore also admitted to possessing terrorist information, namely a document called Homemade Molotov Cocktails.

Thomas, who was also convicted of possessing a bomb-making manual, was the only one to give evidence.

The former Amazon security guard admitted being a racist and told jurors he had been exposed to such beliefs from a young age, adding that his stepfather was in a “white power band” and had started shaving Thomas’s head at the age of five.

He also described telling a female Holocaust survivor, whom he visited with a government de-radicalisation mentor, that he “couldn’t see” how she could have endured the WW2 Nazi death camps.

Thomas told jurors that, aged 18, he went to Israel and considered converting to Judaism because it would have allowed him to join the Israeli military

The BBC has spoken to people who knew Thomas in Israel.

David Simpkins, who shared a room with him at the Machon Meir yeshiva in Jerusalem, said his roommate used the name Avi Ben Abraham.

Simpkins said Thomas had described a “horrible childhood which he characterised as a situation of constantly being bullied, growing up with far-right British extremists who were also neo-Nazis”.

Thomas disclosed that he first “started learning about Judaism to discover why he was supposed to hate them,” Mr Simpkins recalled.

He described Thomas as “extremely intelligent” but said he had “an extreme approach to Judaism” and wanted to join a small fringe group which regards most Jewish people as heretics.

“The rabbis decided that Adam needed to deal with his childhood professionally and return to convert with a clear head,” he said. “He was making the common mistake many who desire conversion make, which is to replace one psychological extreme with another.”

Avishai Grosser, who works with converts, told the BBC that Thomas, who “knew big proportions of the Torah by heart”, dropped out of several conversion programmes and eventually ended up on the streets before returning to the UK.

It is understood that after he returned, he told people in far-right circles that his time in Israel related to an involvement with the white supremacist Christian Identity movement.

It was around this time that he got to know Patatas through National Action chat groups. They met for the first time at a pub social in December 2016 and soon moved in together.

Adam Thomas in Israel

Adam Thomas in Israel

Before proscription, National Action may have been “perceived as just one of those groups who incited racial hatred and were racist”, says Det Chief Supt Matt Ward from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit.

He explains how the understanding of the threat it posed “changed considerably”.

Events after it was banned, he says, show: “A really dangerous, well-structured organisation at the heart of a neo-Nazi ideology that seeks to divide communities, is preparing to instigate and wage a race war within the United Kingdom and has spent years acquiring skills, tactics, weapons, recruiting and training people to be able to do that.”

As in the Midlands, National Action had continued operating covertly in the North West, but had continued more overtly in several other English regions and Scotland using the aliases NS131 and Scottish Dawn.

There are ongoing inquiries into people associated with the group, and several trials have already taken place elsewhere in the UK.

At the Old Bailey in July, Christopher Lythgoe and Matthew Hankinson, both from the North West, were convicted of membership offences in a trial that saw another man plead guilty to threatening to kill a female police officer and preparing an act of terrorism by buying a machete in order to kill Labour MP Rosie Cooper.

Mr Justice Jay, sentencing Lythgoe and Hankinson to eight and six years in prison respectively, said their “truly evil and dystopian vision” could never “have been achieved through the activities of National Action, a very small group operating at the very periphery of far-right wing extremism”.

But he said, “The real risk to society inheres instead in the carrying out of isolated acts of terror,” inspired by what he described as the group’s “perverted ideology”.

What of the National Action founders who inspired such hatred?

We found Ben Raymond and Alex Davies living at separate addresses in Swansea.

Both were arrested in September 2017 on suspicion of membership of National Action but have been told they will not be charged. Raymond was also arrested on suspicion of possessing terrorist material and remains under investigation.

The police enquiries relate to their involvement with the far-right group NS131, which had been created after National Action had been banned. Last year, it was also proscribed.

NS131 promotional image

NS131 promotional image

The men have continued to make public pronouncements.

Earlier this year, Davies used an online neo-Nazi radio station to call for far-right activists to engage in a campaign of “direct action” against the Labour MP who succeeded Jo Cox as the MP for Batley and Spen.

Raymond used the same radio station to discuss the trial of Lythgoe and Hankinson while it was ongoing and declare the defendants “innocent men”.

The BBC asked both Raymond and Davies for an interview, but they declined.

We wanted to ask whether they accept any responsibility for all that has happened and about their relationship with National Action members since proscription.

For example, a private gym in Warrington set up by group leader Lythgoe for violent training sessions was made possible by £1,500 given to him by Davies – who then visited it along with members of the group after the ban.

Raymond continued communicating with members of National Action, post-proscription, via encrypted emails and applications.

He was an active member of both the Midlands Telegram groups – musing on racial theory, engaging in anti-Semitism, discussing his correspondence with neo-Nazis abroad, and lecturing the others on the threat from infiltrators.

On the day National Action was banned, Raymond had emailed several contacts, including Deakin and Lythgoe, to say he was “super excited about working on all the new projects”. Later chat messages show Deakin saying Raymond was responsible for designing propaganda material after proscription.

A hidden webpage containing Raymond’s designs over several years, which includes propaganda drawings depicting sexual violence, suggests he created logos for several proposed groups in the period after the National Action ban.

Deakin also kept on reporting back to Raymond – in the same way he had done before proscription – sending him messages about, for example, building dossiers on “problematic” individuals and a sinister idea about creating fake “rabidly anti-white propaganda” and “rabidly pro-Jewish propaganda to push people over the edge”.

When the BBC returned to Swansea with a television camera and approached Raymond in the street outside his bedsit, he swore at us and fled inside, refusing to answer questions.

What will happen to the National Action network in the longer term is unclear.

Already proscribed under two aliases – NS131 and Scottish Dawn – it may yet be banned under others, too.

The Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, based around the notorious British radical preacher Anjem Choudary, has been proscribed under nine other names, but the network of individuals has persisted and been involved in many acts of terrorism.

National Action is not the first violent neo-Nazi group in this country since WW2.

In the 1960s, members of several organisations attacked synagogues and engaged in paramilitary-style training. The far-right group Combat 18 was later involved in multiple acts of violence and intimidation. In the late 1990s, the London nail bomber David Copeland was an activist in the now defunct National Socialist Movement.

David Copeland who bombed the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho and other targets in London

David Copeland who bombed the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho and other targets in London

The neo-Nazi threat in this country, while persistent, is not large. But it is potent in that those radicalised by its ideas have given themselves to such a violent and hateful creed that some terrorist activity will inevitably follow.

The lies espoused by the extreme right – of Aryan supremacy and global Jewish conspiracies – are out there, old ideas spread by modern means, their promoters emboldened in and by the fractious political climate.

The danger also appears to be growing, with police reporting an increase in the number of foiled far-right terror plots – five since March 2017 – and the murder of Jo Cox and the Finsbury Park vehicle attack clear evidence of what radicalised individuals can do.

Last month, the UK’s most senior counter terrorism officer, Met Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, told MPs that around 80% of the 700 live terror investigations were focused on Islamist Jihadists, with around 20% now focused on others, including a “significant number of right-wing ideological threats”.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in the UK last year, an official review recommended an increased role for MI5 in tackling extreme right-wing terrorism, with the aim being to ensure equivalence in how terrorism is dealt with, irrespective of the ideology that inspires it.

Implementation of recommendation has started, with the security service beginning to take the lead for an area that has previously been the preserve of the police.

BBC News