Racist who planned war on 'non-British' is jailed

Police found tennis ball bombs in bag after arrest for drinking on a train
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The Independent Online

A white supremacist whose plot to start a racist war against the "non-British" was discovered by chance when he abused a train conductor has been convicted of planning terrorism and building bombs.

The Old Bailey heard that Neil Lewington, 43, had set up a bomb factory in his bedroom at the house he shared with his parents in Reading, Berkshire, ahead of a campaign which he told one girlfriend would involve attacking the homes of Asians with splinter bombs fashioned from tennis balls.

Police believe that the jobless electrician was on the verge of starting the attacks when he was arrested at Lowestoft railway station in Suffolk last October after abusing a female conductor who had challenged him for smoking and drinking on board a train while he was travelling to see a woman he had met in an internet chatroom.

A routine public order arrest became a full-scale counter-terrorism investigation when police opened Lewington's holdall and found inside two of the home-made shrapnel bombs fashioned from tennis balls along with a note in his wallet with headings for the date, place and weather when the devices would be set off.

When police searched his parents' home they found a large collection of bomb-making materials, including weedkiller, firelighters, electrical timers and switches, firework powder and three tennis balls with diagrams on how to convert them into rudimentary grenades.

The searches also uncovered a handwritten notebook labelled "Waffen SS UK members' handbook" in which Lewington laid out his fascist ideology and the methods to be employed by a fictitious coterie of racists. He wrote: "A new group has been formed, the Waffen SS UK. We have 30 members split into 15 two-man cells. We are highly trained ex-military personnel and will use incendiary and explosive devices throughout the UK at random until all non-British people as defined by blood are removed from our country. This is no joke... Finally our motto: You cannot stop what cannot be stopped."

Prosecutors said that the two devices being carried by Lewington had been viable and he had developed a "factory" capable of producing many more. Brian Altman QC 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."

Lewington, who was found guilty of preparing terrorism and having explosives with intent to endanger life, had developed an "unhealthy interest" in other white supremacist atrocities, including the Oklahoma City bombing and David Copeland, the London nail bomber, the court heard.

David Etherington QC, defending, said his client was not a terrorist but an "oddball". He said Lewington, who will be sentenced in September, was a "silly, immature, alcoholic, dysfunctional twit fantasising to make up for a rather sad life".