Ben John Wiki
Ben John Biography
Who is Ben John ?
A neo-Nazi former college student who was given a suspended prison sentence and told to read classic literature after being convicted of a terrorism offense has been jailed for two years after his original sentence was overturned.
Ben John, who was described as a white supremacist with a Hitler-inspired ideology, was given a two-year suspended sentence at Leicester Crown Court last August after he was found guilty of terrorism offences.
The 22-year-old had amassed more than 67,000 documents, including bomb-making literature and anti-Semitic material, Lincolnshire Police said.
But Judge Timothy Spencer QC concluded the crime was ‘an act of adolescent insanity’, sensationally ruling that John could stay out of prison as long as he read Shakespeare and Dickens classics rather than far-right works.
The Attorney General’s Office remanded John’s sentence to the Court of Appeals after campaigners called the suspended sentence ‘pathetic’.
Today, John gave no outward reaction when Lord Justice Holroyde overturned the original sentence, finding it illegal, and ordered him to serve two years in prison.
Lord Justice Holroyde said: “We are convinced that there should be an immediate prison sentence.”
John, who attended the hearing via video link, must surrender to police by 4:00 p.m. m. Thursday, said Lord Justice Holroyde.
Solicitor General Alex Chalk QC personally attended the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London to argue that John’s sentence should be increased.
John had first been identified as a terrorist risk days after his 18th birthday and was referred to Prevent, the government’s counter-extremism body.
Despite repeated interventions, John continued to download ‘repellent’ far-right documents, as well as a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook, which includes diagrams and instructions on how to build explosives.
A jury found him guilty of possessing a record of information that could be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
John had first been identified
Chalk said John “was, at the time of these crimes, a confirmed extremist” and that “there are very good reasons” to think he may still be.
Chalk said John had accessed “very, very worrying” material this month alone, adding: “It’s not worth thinking about if some of this ideology is put into practice.”
The Court of Appeals was told that the trial judge suspended John’s prison sentence after the former student promised to stop his interest in far-right ideologies.
Chalk said: ‘And yet, as the court knows, he did not keep that promise.
“While there have been no formal SCPO (Serious Crime Prevention Order) violations, the offender has continued to view far-right material online. That started in a week.
He said this included “liking” Nazi-themed content “just five days after promising the judge he had put it behind him.”
Mr. Chalk continued: “He was not bothered by the fact that, a week after leaving that court, with the promise ringing in his ears, he had looked at that material again.”
Suella Braverman’s decision to remand the sentence came after the anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate called for the case to be considered under the unduly lenient sentencing scheme.
In an open letter, the group said: “This ruling sends a message that violent right-wing extremists can be treated leniently by the courts.”
A spokesperson for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism added: “The Attorney General was absolutely right to ask the Court of Appeal to review this pathetic sentence.
“It is inexplicable that a man who collected almost 70,000 neo-Nazi and terrorism-related documents can completely avoid a custodial sentence for crimes that carry a maximum prison sentence of fifteen years.
‘Instead, Ben John walked out of court with a mere suspended sentence and some English homework.
“Of all the novels Mr. John was ordered by the judge to peruse while he enjoys his unearned freedom, it was notable that Crime and Punishment was not among them.
“Perhaps the judge himself should revisit that classic while he ponders the risk his dangerous sentence poses to the public.”
At a review hearing earlier this month, Judge Timothy Spencer QC asked John to write down the books he had read since they last spoke, as they were not included in his report.
“It is clear that he has tried to fix his life,” the judge said.
‘I would like to know what he has read of the classic literature that he told the jury that he was interested in.
‘There is nothing in the report about that and I want you to write down now what literature you have read since we last saw each other.’
John said, “I enjoyed Shakespeare more than Jane Austen, but I still enjoyed Jane Austen to a degree.”
‘Well, I find that encouraging,’ replied the judge.
The bomb-making literature was examined by British military experts at Porton Down
In April 2019, John copied more than 9,000 right-wing and terrorism-related documents onto his computer hard drive and added 2,600 more in August.
Those documents were only discovered in January 2020, after police raided John’s college accommodation.
They included seven documents that the judge described as “many, many workable instructions on how to make devastating explosions.”
The police had to carry out a forensic examination of his hard drives because John had deleted them a month before the raid.
In the UK, it is illegal to knowingly possess material that could aid terrorist-related activities under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act.
The bomb-making literature was examined by British military experts at Porton Down, near Salisbury, and seven of the documents had precise guidelines for making firearms, ammunition and explosive devices.
Ben John Quick and Facts
- A neo-Nazi university student has been jailed after his sentence was quashed
- Ben John was caught with 67,788 white supremacist and neo-Nazi documents
- He was also found to have downloaded The Anarchist Cookbook on a hard drive
- But a judge told John to read classic novels instead of sending him to jail
- Attorney General Suella Braverman referred John’s case to the Court of Appeal
- Campaigners had branded the neo-Nazi’s suspended sentence ‘pathetic’