BNP member jailed over terror cache
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Friday 15 January 2010
A BNP member who spent a decade building up a cache of weapons in a bedroom hideaway was jailed for 11 years today.
Bus driver Terrance Gavan manufactured highly dangerous firearms and explosives at the home where he lived with his mother in Batley, West Yorkshire.
Police discovered 54 improvised explosive devices including nail bombs and a booby-trapped cigarette packet at the address, as well as 12 firearms.
The former soldier told detectives that he had "a fascination with things that go bang", the Old Bailey heard.
But Gavan also had a "strong hostility" towards immigrants and planned to target an address he had seen on a television programme that he believed was linked to the July 7 bomb attacks in London.
He told police he was a BNP member and letters to him from the party, as well as a copy of its magazine Hope and Glory, were found at his home.
The court heard that hand-written notebooks were found, in one of which was written the slogan: "The patriot must always be ready to defend his country against enemies and their governments."
Gavan pleaded guilty to 22 counts including collecting information useful for terrorism and possessing explosives and firearms.
Mr Justice Calvert-Smith told Gavan: "Your case is unique.
"There is no case in which such a long and persistent course of manufacture of both guns and explosives combined with possession of material likely to be useful to those who commit terrorist acts has ever been before a court before."
The judge said his weapons had "the potential to cause serious injury if activated" although there was no suggestion Gavan had tried to use them to injure people or passed on or sold them.
But he added: "You had in 2007 joined the BNP, and written in your own notebooks indicating strong hostility towards immigrants in this country."
The judge said that Gavan was a "lone operator" who had "an obsession with guns and explosives".
After the case, Detective Chief Superintendent David Buxton, head of the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, said: "Gavan was an extremely dangerous and unpredictable individual.
"The sheer volume of home-made firearms and grenades found in his bedroom exposed his obsession with weapons and explosives.
"However, he was not simply a harmless enthusiast. Gavan used his extensive knowledge to manufacture and accumulate devices capable of causing significant injury or harm. As such, he posed a very clear risk to public safety.
"Our investigation revealed Gavan's violent potential and while he had no single cause or agenda, he represented no less of a threat to our communities."
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