White supremacist Michael O’Neill, aged 61, made jibes at everyone from Taylor Swift to Sadiq Khan
A Nazi has been jailed for a campaign of race hate on social media which included jibes at everyone from London mayor Sadiq Khan to pop superstar Taylor Swift.
White supremacist Michael O’Neill, aged 61, was arrested after an investigation by counter-terrorism police watching far-right groups.
He spent three years using Facebook and Twitter to spread racial abuse.
O’Neill was continually blocked by the social media giants for posting offensive material, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
But he created accounts under slightly different names so he could go on spouting filth.
He posted a picture of Tyler Swift with her arm around a black child and claimed she could catch Down’s Syndrome.
Jailing him for two years for his racist messages, Judge James Townsend said that he needed to pass a sentence to deter others.
He told the defendant the posts went on for a prolonged period of nearly three years and were available for all to see.
Police said after the case that the sentence should deter others from posting extreme views.
O’Neill, of Redhill Close, Ernesettle, pleaded not guilty to eight counts of distributing written material on social media likely to stir up racial hatred.
But he was found guilty after a four-day trial last month.
The jury saw more than 100 bizarre and offensive Facebook posts and tweets from between 2015 and 2018.
Simon Burns, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said among the more worrying posts was a suggestion that black Labour front bencher Diane Abbott “needed dispatching”.
O’Neill, with links to the National Front and Combat 18, also said Mr Khan should ‘f*** off and die’.
The barrister also reminded the judge that O’Neill said Pakistani Muslims should be “wiped out”.
O’Neill told a court that a tattoo of the number 1488 – linked to Hitler – was nothing to do with Nazis and was just a reminder of his PIN.
O’Neill said that he had the ink done years ago because he kept forgetting the number.
He also briefly sang the anthem “Flower of Scotland” from the witness stand during his trial.
Rupert Taylor, for O’Neill, said his client had “learnt his lesson”.
He added that the defendant no longer posted messages on social media or associated with far-right racists.
Mr Taylor said O’Neill drank heavily, was socially isolated and in poor health.
He added: “He has had the good sense to mend his ways. He is anxious to accept assistance and that is something that could be done in the community.
“It is really a plea for mercy for him to live quietly with restrictions.”
Mr Taylor said that his comments did not provoke actual violence or drive anyone to radical views.
Det Sgt Steve Foale from Counter Terrorism Police South West said after the case that the unit started examining O’Neill’s online activity early in 2018.
He added that when police searched his home in July that year, they found books, flags and music linked to the far-right.
DS Foale said: “His mindset combined with his aspiration for others to commit violence towards vulnerable members of our communities cannot be underestimated and could not go unprosecuted.
“O’Neill had at least eight Twitter and Facebook accounts attributed to him from which he continually posted a large amount of offensive extreme far-right material.
Chief Inspector Rob Mooney added: “The sentencing today of Michael O’Neill will send a positive message to the people of Plymouth that Devon and Cornwall Police and our partners will not accept any extremist ideology.
“Residents in our community must be protected from anyone that displays these abhorrent and bigoted behaviours.
“This court result shows that we take reports of this nature very seriously and urge our communities to carry on reporting such activity to police.
“If you have any information about suspicious activity or behaviour please contact Counter Terrorism Police in confidence. You can report a potential terrorist threat via our secure online form at gov.uk/ACT or call us on 0800 789 321.”