Neo-Nazi found guilty of racist terror plan

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A white supremacist is facing years behind bars today after being convicted of terrorism and explosives offences.

Neil Lewington was arrested by chance on a train on his way to strike his first blow in his racist war against the "non-British".

The neo-Nazi, who turned his bedroom into a bomb factory, was also trying to perfect tennis ball bombs which he could throw at the homes of Asians.

He was found guilty at the Old Bailey of having explosives with intent to endanger life and preparing for acts of terrorism.

Lewington, 43, an unemployed electrician who lived with his parents in Tilehurst, Reading, Berks, had denied all eight charges brought under the Terrorism Act and explosives laws.

He was convicted of seven counts.

Lewington, who was remanded in custody until 8 September, kept his head bowed as the verdicts were delivered.

Judge Peter Thornton warned him: "The likely outcome is a lengthy sentence of imprisonment."

His conviction comes after counter-terrorism chiefs boosted their resources to monitor a surge in the number of suspected far-right plotters.

Teams of officers formed to tackle the threat of Islamic extremists found themselves examining neo-Nazi sympathisers.

Lewington had an "unhealthy interest" in other racist attackers such as London nail bomber David Copeland, America's Unabomber and Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh.

He was arrested at Lowestoft station in Suffolk on October 30 last year after abusing a female train conductor who challenged him.

Lewington had been on his way to see a woman but after drinking and smoking on the train, he had urinated in public.

He was arrested for a public order offence when the train arrived at the station and his hold-all bag was searched.

He was found to be carrying two firebombs which would have exploded when primed.

In his wallet were hand-written notes entitled "device 1" and "device 2" with headings including "date", "place", "target", "weather" and "detonated?".

Later searches of his home revealed a notebook entitled "Waffen SS UK members' handbook" with a "device logbook" of drawings of electronics and chemical mixtures.

In it, Lewington made a chilling mission statement in which he boasts of two-man hit squads bombing the UK at random.

Also found in his bedroom were weedkiller, firelighters, three tennis balls with diagrams on how to convert them into shrapnel bombs, firework powder, electrical timers and detonators.

Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, said: "This man, who had strong if not fanatical right wing leanings and opinions, was on the cusp of embarking on a campaign of terrorism against those he considered non-British.

"The defendant had in his possession the component parts of two viable improvised incendiary devices.

"He had the parts which, if assembled together, would have created devices which if ignited would have caught alight and caused flames and fire.

"Later searches of the house where the defendant lived, in particular his own bedroom, revealed nothing short of a factory for the production of many such similar devices."

Lewington had two video compilations of news and documentary footage about bombers and bombings both in Britain and the US.

These included the Mardi Gra bomber, who targeted Barclays Bank and Sainsbury's, as well as Copeland and McVeigh.

Mr Altman said: "In addition to his extreme views on race and ethnicity, the defendant had an unhealthy interest in bombers as well as bombings.

"Lewington was someone who had taken his interest and his practical skills far beyond the mere intellectual or academic levels.

"It is abundantly clear that in the privacy of his own bedroom, this defendant had begun the manufacture of improvised explosive or incendiary devices - a production line from which he had garnered the two devices."

The prosecution could not say where the devices would be placed, but the circumstances showed he was about to commit acts of terrorism.

The court was told the loner had been unemployed for 10 years after being sacked from his last job for being drunk.

He had not spoken to his father for 10 years and spent his time searching for girlfriends on chatlines.

Mr Altman said he had made racist remarks and spoke to some of converting tennis balls into bombs.

One woman was put off by him when he said "the only good Paki was a dead Paki" and he would not hit a woman but would "make an exception for a Paki".

He said he was a member of the National Front and wanted the Ku Klux Klan brought back.

Another woman, an Army cadet sergeant, said he asked if she had had dealings with the Nazi group Combat 18.

She said he had an interest in chemicals and had taken some weedkiller from her.

Later, he bought a child's chemistry set from Toys R Us and told her he could make explosives using it and household items, the jury heard.

Another girlfriend said he spoke of making bombs and asked at which house in her street an Asian family lived.

But David Etherington QC, defending, said there was insufficient evidence to say Lewington was a terrorist rather than an "oddball".

He asked the jury: "Is he the real deal? Is he a terrorist or is he just a big pest, a nuisance?"

Mr Etherington suggested Lewington was a "silly immature alcoholic dysfunctional twit, fantasising to make up for a rather sad life".

Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Bethan David said: "While holding racist beliefs is not a crime, however distasteful they may be to to most people, planning and preparing to attack or terrorise people with explosive devices is a criminal act.

"The material collected during the investigation, coupled with the nature of the devices that he had made, convinced us that Neil Lewington was a real threat not just to the people that he was targeting but to anyone in the vicinity had he succeeded in detonating his bombs.

"He had the knowledge and the will to cause destruction, injury and death."

The conviction was welcomed by Deputy Assistant Commissioner John McDowall, head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command and Senior National Co-Coordinator Counter Terrorism.

"From time to time, threats emerge from right-wing extremists who are intent on undermining community cohesion in London and elsewhere in the UK," he said.

"Neil Lewington clearly set out to make viable devices which could have seriously injured or possibly killed members of the public going about their daily lives.

"Whilst our inquiries did not uncover any details about intended targets, we do not underestimate the impact that Lewington's actions and extremist beliefs may have had on communities nationwide.

"We treat right-wing extremism as seriously as any other form of violent extremism and will continue to investigate such activity with the same determination in order to keep all communities safe."