Two men who encouraged copycat terror attacks after shootings in New Zealand have been jailed.
Morgan Seales and Gabriele Longo discussed doing something similar to the attacks on mosques in Christchurch which claimed 51 lives in March.
They were convicted of encouraging terrorism and other offences after a trial at Leeds Crown Court.
Seales, from South Shields, was jailed for four years. Longo, from Crawley, West Sussex, was given a six-year term.
The court heard the pair published extreme right-wing statements encouraging terrorism on a WhatsApp group called Christian White Militia.
Counter-terror police arrested Seales, 20, from Turner Avenue, South Shields, shortly after the New Zealand attacks, when suspicions were raised about his online activities.
Longo, 26, of Burdock Close, Crawley, was arrested the following month after he was identified from Seales’ mobile phone records.
As well as encouraging terrorism, the pair were also found guilty of possessing material for terrorist purposes and collecting or making a record of information useful in the preparation of an act of terrorism.
Longo was also found guilty of disseminating terrorist publications.
The court was told Seales suffered from a personality disorder and had a “very difficult childhood” in which he battled anxiety and depression with the aid of children’s services but had “fallen through the net” of adult support services.
‘Threat to Muslims’
Judge Tom Bayliss QC said Longo was “something of an enigma” as little was known about him but he was satisfied he was “deeply radicalised”.
He added: “Both of you were in danger of indoctrinating others in that group chat. There were some very young people, some as young as 14.
“Your activity posed not only a threat to Muslims who were your potential victims but also a threat to everyone in our democratic society.”
After the sentencing hearing, Det Ch Supt Martin Snowden, head of counter terrorism policing north east, said “despicable acts” were encouraged under the “banner of right-wing ideology”.
He added: “It is apparent from the examination of both individuals’ mobile phones that they regularly participated in online chats and made postings that reflect their extreme beliefs, their beliefs developing and evolving over time through research and connecting with like-minded individuals.”