Gang of racists jailed over plot to maim black man

A gang of racists, including a leading member of the National Front and supporters of the neo-Nazi group Combat 18, was jailed yesterday for a total of 25 years after police foiled a plot to attack a black man.

Seven of the eight-man gang were caught in a van with darkened windows carrying an array of weapons, including an imitation gun, CS gas canisters, an axe, a knuckle duster, and plastic handcuffs.

Eight gang members later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racially aggravated assault and were given sentences ranging from 18 months to four years and four months at Kingston Crown Court.

Searches at the racists' homes in London discovered more weapons and National Front and neo-Nazi literature. Police also found links between members of the gang and the extreme right-wing organisation Combat 18.

One of those jailed, Simon Northfield, 23, was a National Front "officer" and "organiser", the court heard. Literature from the far-right group described Northfield, a builder from Wallington, south London, as a leading figure in the Young National Front. In February 2000 he admitted attacking members of the Anti-Nazi League and shouting racist abuse while taking part in a National Front rally in Margate.

The gang was discovered at a car park in Tooting, south London, at 9pm on 29 September 2001, after a white van aroused the suspicions of a council patrol. Police were called and the gang was arrested. Inside the vehicle they found a kidnap and assault kit that included eight balaclavas, two extendable batons, surgical face masks, screwdrivers, and two craft-knife blades taped together, an arrangement that means wounds cannot be easily stitched.

Police believe the gang gathered to carry out an attack on a randomly selected member of the Afro-Caribbean community in revenge for an earlier fight with a group of Somalis.

One of the group, a 17-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, approached his friend Paul Lewis, 19, for help after becoming involved in a fight with two Somalians, the court was told. Lewis arranged for the armed gang to meet up.

Northfield, who also pleaded guilty to possessing weapons, was jailed for four years and four months. Lewis, a hospital porter, was jailed for three years. Another conspirator, Paul Connell, 21, who as a teenager had been bullied and was lonely, had joined the National Front supporters to be "one of the gang", the court heard. He was jailed for three years and nine months.

At the home of James Kennett, 19, police found racist pamphlets and magazines, including NF literature. He had previously been convicted of placing NF stickers on the shop window and car of an Asian shop keeper. He was jailed for three years and six months.

Thomas Slade, 21, a window fitter, was jailed to three years and nine months. Paul White, 25, a kitchen fitter, was sentenced to three years and 10 months.

Two 17-year-olds were each jailed for 18 months. One of the 17-year-olds was the main supplier of the weapons.

Detective Chief Inspector Magnus Gudmundsson said after the case: "There is no doubt that serious assaults were intended against a racial minority and extensive preparation had been undertaken."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in