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White supremacist who ran channels encouraging far-right terror attacks from parents’ house jailed

·4-min read
Michael Nugent was jailed for three-and-a-half years  (Metropolitan Police)
Michael Nugent was jailed for three-and-a-half years (Metropolitan Police)

A white supremacist who ran online channels encouraging terror attacks from his parents’ house has been jailed.

Michael Nugent, 38, admitted five counts of disseminating terrorist publications and 11 of possessing information useful to a terrorist.

He ran several far-right channels on the encrypted Telegram messaging app, where material including terrorist manifestos and explosives manuals were posted.

Judge Peter Lodder QC told Nugent he had “knowingly encouraged right-wing terrorism” at a sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

Jailing him at Kingston Crown Court, he added: “You did not work but spent all of your time at home in your parents’ house, where from your bedroom, you developed your online extremist persona.

“You posted toxic offensive material to websites and administered groups which were dedicated to violent racist, antisemitic, and neo-Nazi ideology.”

Judge Lodder said Nugent sought to spread content targeting Jews, black people, and including Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories, widely.

“Whatever your mental health at the time, no-one concludes that you weren’t aware of what you were doing,” he added, after the court heard that Nugent suffered from psychosis.

Nugent, of Ashford in Surrey, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison, with a one-year extended licence period.

The term was reduced from a six-year starting point because of his early guilty plea, mental health and mitigation.

Judge Lodder said Nugent had written him a letter indicating “different views” than he held while committing the offences and added: “I accept that the Pandemic exacerbated your anxiety and stress levels, and that the care received whilst remanded was not available before.”

Encrypted messaging app Telegram has become popular among neo-Nazis (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Encrypted messaging app Telegram has become popular among neo-Nazis (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The court heard how Nugent used a Telegram username containing numeric code meaning “Heil Hitler”.

The defendant “honoured” right-wing terrorists including Christchurch attacker Brenton Tarrant and Norway shooter Anders Breivik.

He described the Christchurch massacre, which left 51 Muslim worshippers dead, a “game-changer” and created a “sick“ celebration video to mark its one-year anniversary in March 2020.

Nugent owned and shared Tarrant’s manifesto, which encourages others to launch attacks and spreads a conspiracy that white people are being “replaced”.

“I understand why Tarrant did what he did, it's just sad that it's come to this,” Nugent wrote on Telegram. ”What he did was a game-changer.”

In his personal diary, seized after his arrest in August 2020, he expressed desires to have ethnic minorities ”sent home“ and ”sterilised“.

”We are being genocided in our own homes and our own country,“ read one extract. ”Terrorism is the only way out of it.“

Prosecutor Kate Wilkinson said that in September 2019 Nugent had converted one of his Telegram groups to become a “supergroup”, meaning up to 200,000 members could access the content.

“This channel attracted and became a safe haven for anyone who wished to post messages expressing and encouraging extreme racial hatred and violence towards black people,” she said.

The court heard that an undercover police officer infiltrated one of Nugent’s channels, and was given documents with instructions on bomb-making and firearms manuals by the defendant.

“It is plain from the frequency of the defendant's messaging and what he sent to the undercover officer that he had a wealth of extremist material in his possession that he was willing to provide widely to the group or directly upon request,” said Ms Wilkinson.

Liam Walker, defending, said despite Nugent's “abhorrent” views, his actions had been influenced by deteriorating mental health.

“Mr Nugent is in a different category to other offenders who may have been completely cognisant of what they were doing,” he said.

“Mr Nugent does not recognise the person he was at the time or the views he held,” he said, adding that he had gained “insight” from time in prison.

Mr Walker said Nugent's family had described him as a “withdrawn man, agoraphobic in his habits”, and that his anxiety had been ”magnified“ by the coronavirus pandemic.

He added that Nugent was now receiving treatment for his medical condition.

Commander Richard Smith, who leads the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This is another case which shows how harmful online extremism is.

“That is why it is important that anyone who believes that they have a friend or loved one who they think has been radicalised, or is vulnerable, seeks help.”

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