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Steven Bishop, 41, had become fixated on the youngest victim of Manchester Arena attack

A violent racist with a history of mental health problems who admitted a terrorist offence and stockpiling equipment to bomb a mosque has been jailed for four years, one of the lowest sentences for someone plotting a potentially deadly attack.

Steven Bishop, 41, amassed commercial grade fireworks and other equipment as he formed the intention to build a homemade firebomb he would remotely detonate to attack the Morden mosque, in south London. He may serve just over another year in prison before his release on licence.

He claimed his plot was “revenge” for the Manchester arena bombing in 2017 in which 22 people died, but was stopped in October 2018 after a counsellor he saw for addictions reported Bishop to police after he told her of his plans.

Bishop had pleaded guilty earlier this week at Kingston crown court to two offences, one under the Explosive Substances Act 1883 and the other, having material useful for terrorism.

Concerns have been raised about the length of sentence, as British authorities try to show they take extremist rightwing violence as seriously as Islamist attacks.

Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the Guardian: “It is one of the lowest sentences for this kind of offence.

“I would expect the prosecution would consider appealing this sentence on the grounds that it is unduly lenient. I would be surprised if that was not the view of the Crown Prosecution Service.”

A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “There will be deep concern amongst many that this man was given a relatively light sentence even though he was poised to murder people.

“We learned from the case that Mr Bishop was driven by a hatred of Muslims. We hope we will be able to learn how the punishment fits this particularly serious crime.”

The Guardian understands the length of sentence also caused surprise among counter-terrorism investigators.

When detectives from Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command searched Bishop’s room in October 2018 they discovered fireworks as well as fuses, a remote control and igniter. He had also ordered a firing device.

He had placed virtual private network (VPN) apps on his phone to hide his online activity, which included researching explosive detonators and the target which was the Morden mosque.

Bishop, who had significant mental health problems, had stashed parts for making improvised incendiary devices at his mother’s home, hidden in a suitcase in the garden shed.

Bishop made notes detailing recipes and methods to make explosive substances.

The sentence was passed by Judge Lodder QC, who is experienced in similar cases.

In 2015 the same judge sentenced Trevor Mulindwa, an Islamist terrorist with mental health problems to six years for wanting to flee abroad. Mulwindwa, who had been treated in a mental health unit, had talked of being a suicide bomber, but had not bought bomb parts.

Sentencing Bishop, Lodder said: “The detonation of one or more of these fireworks at Morden mosque may have risked the lives of those nearby.”
“It is submitted that you are so far out of your depth that it is absurd and that the mosque was never truly in danger. In that context you are contrasted with a determined and dedicated terrorist. But terrorist acts are not limited to those who do not have similar vulnerabilities to you.”

He added: “The seriousness of the offending is reduced by your medical history, but I do not find that your condition at the time of offending was substantially reduced by mental disorder or learning disability.”

Prosecutor Dan Pawson-Pounds told the court: “Much as he never formed the final intent actually to carry out the act against the mosque at any particular point, he accepts that he carried out acts preparatory to it, and in contemplation of it.”

Bishop has had lifelong psychiatric disorders including paranoid schizophrenia, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, a possible learning difficulty and also has experience of drug abuse. His 18 previous convictions include racially aggravated common assault.

Bishop’s barrister, Timothy Forte, denied his client’s action were fuelled by extremist rightwing beliefs. His web browsing history showed him viewing a pro-Brexit site and one instance of far-right material. Forte said he was moved by a victim of the Manchester attack, Saffie Roussos, aged 8: “It is only ever about Saffie. There is no expression of anti-Islamic feeling.”

“He’s not seeking to obtain a white Britain or a Muslim-free country. He was seeking in his non-functioning manner to exact revenge for the death of an eight-year-old girl and the crown can’t demonstrate an ideological cause.”

Bishop received benefits of around £1,200 a week and used the money to buy and consume drugs.

Bishop pleaded guilty to possession of an explosive substance with intent, in breach of the Explosives Act. The charge he admitted said that Bishop had by “29 October 2018, unlawfully and maliciously made or had in his possession or under his control an explosive substance with intent by means thereof to endanger life, or cause serious injury to property”. He received four years imprisonment for that charge, and an additional one year on licence because the offence was connected to terrorism.

Bishop also admitted an offence under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000. He accepted he had “made a record of information of a kind likely to be of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. He received two years for that count, to run at the same time as the explosives offence.

The Guardian

An investigation by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command has led to the conviction of a man who was gathering together fireworks and other components to make an improvised incendiary device he was planning to use to target a mosque in south London.

Steven Bishop, 41 (28.11.77) of south London pleaded guilty at Kingston Crown Court on 8 April to possession of an explosive substance with intent, contrary to section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883.

He previously pleaded guilty to collection or making a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, contrary to section 58 of the Terrorism Act (TACT) 2000. He is due to be sentenced on 10 April.

Bishop was arrested by Counter Terrorism detectives on Monday, 29 October 2018, at his address in south London. Officers attended the address after police were contacted by one of Bishop’s key workers when he showed her images of items he was collecting for the purpose, he said, to build ‘a bomb’, and told her that he was intending to target a mosque.

Commander Clarke Jarrett head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command said: “From our investigation it was clear Bishop stockpiled a quantity of fireworks and other component parts with the intention of creating a device that he was intending to use to target a mosque. Thanks to the diligence of his key worker in alerting us we were able to intervene before he could progress with his plans any further and crucially, nobody came to any harm.

“This example shows that information we get from the public really can help to protect the public and save lives. If you have any information about suspicious or terrorist activity, then please ACT and call police on 0800 728 321.

“Given Bishop was focussed upon a mosque, and in light of recent events in New Zealand, we also know that Muslim and other faith communities may be feeling particularly concerned and vulnerable. Specialist officers continue to provide support and protective security advice to mosques, and indeed all places of worship across the UK on how to best keep their buildings and visitors safe.”

After the concerns over Bishop were raised to police, officers initially attended his address and Bishop claimed he was just planning to let fireworks off at his mother’s address in south-west London. However, further enquiries were carried out and on 29 October 2018 Bishop was arrested at his mother’s home address. When detectives searched his address, they found several fireworks – some of which had been tampered with, as well as other equipment associated with making homemade incendiary devices, including fuses and remote control and ignitor. A firing device was also delivered to Bishop’s address two days after his arrest.

Officers identified that Bishop had bought a smartphone on 18 October 2018. The first searches made on the phone were for instructions on how to access the ‘dark web’ and he carried out research on how to conduct covert internet searches.

Further analysis of his device showed Bishop visited sites and viewed videos about the Manchester, London Bridge and Paris terrorist attacks. Detectives found a comment Bishop had posted on 24 October 2018 in relation to a video on Facebook about the victims of the Manchester Arena attack which ended with him saying: “don’t worry something bad is going to happen soon mark my words”.

Two ‘VPN’ apps were downloaded on to the phone – the apps are designed to hide which internet sites and online information the user has been accessing. However, when they opened one of the apps, officers found a page was still open, which showed Bishop had been researching further details on explosives detonators. Bishop had also carried out a number of online searches for Morden mosque.

Police searched Bishop’s mother’s address where they found wrapping that matched the fireworks at his home address. In the garden shed, detectives found a red suitcase inside which they found component parts which could be combined to create an improvised incendiary device.

Furthermore, detectives also found a number of hand-written notes by Bishop with detailed information on how to make various explosive substances, as well as information on how to access the dark web. The notes were deemed to be of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

After questioning and whilst further enquiries were being carried out, Bishop was charged a week after his arrest on 5 November 2018 and subsequently pleaded guilty to the offences above.

Following the guilty plea, Bishop was remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced on Wednesday, 10 April at Kingston Crown Court.

Met Police

Steven Bishop changed his plea as his trial had been due to start

Steven Bishop changed his plea as his trial had been due to start


A man has admitted planning a bomb attack on a south London mosque.

Steven Bishop, 41, admitted buying fireworks and possessing instructions on how to make an explosive.

Bishop, of Thornton Heath, was believed to have been targeting Morden Mosque when his home was raided by police on 29 October last year.

He will be sentenced on Wednesday after changing his plea on the opening day of his trial at Kingston Crown Court.

He had originally been charged with preparing an act of terrorism, but prosecutors accepted a plea to a charge of possession of an explosive substance with intent to endanger life or property on Monday.

Bishop previously pleaded guilty to possession of information likely to be useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism, specifically a handwritten note on how to make explosives.

When he was arrested he told the police he wanted revenge for the death of eight-year-old Saffie Roussos who died in the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.

The court heard Bishop has a history of mental health problems and a number of psychiatric reports had been prepared ahead of his trial.

He was remanded in custody until Wednesday,

BBC News