Neo-Nazis convicted of race hate charges

Mike Hornby,Press Association
Thursday 24 June 2010 17:33 BST

Two "proud neo-Nazis" who posted abusive messages on the internet about Jews and other ethnic minorities were convicted of inciting racial hatred today.

Michael Heaton, 42, and Trevor Hannington, 58, are members of the so-called Aryan Strike Force (ASF), their trial at Liverpool Crown Court heard.

The jury was told the pair left comments on the ASF website.

In one, Heaton said of Jews: "...They will always be scum, destroy 'em with whatever it takes".

He also wrote: "I would encourage any religion or race that wants to destroy the Jews, I hate them with a passion ...".

Hannington, from Cardiff, posted the message: "Kill the Jew, Kill the Jew, Burn down a synagogue today! ... Burn the scum..."

After a two-week trial both were unanimously cleared of soliciting murder but Heaton was convicted of six counts of using threatening, abusive or insulting words likely to stir up racial hatred.

Hannington had previously admitted two counts of stirring up racial hatred and two further counts of possessing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Hannington admitted owning the Anarchist's Cookbook, Kitchen Complete and The Terrorist Encyclopaedia, all of which are considered useful tools to someone preparing or committing an act of terrorism.

He pleaded guilty to inciting racial hatred with internet posts stating his beliefs that Jews were "parasites feeding on others" and "utterly evil sub-beings".

He also admitted publishing a post on the internet with instructions on how to make a flame thrower out of a water pistol.

Heaton was accused over four comments he made on the ASF website (ASF) between January and April 2008.

In one post he wrote that black people were "less intelligent than other species", and in another that Jews were leeches and "treacherous f****** scum".

The defence argued the men were innocent of soliciting murder because they were nothing more than "fantasists".

But Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, told the jury the men "made it their life's work" to spread racist messages and encourage others to help them achieve their goal of "the eradication of ethnic minorities from Britain".

"Each of these men is proud to call himself a National Socialist, or a neo-Nazi in other language," Mr Edis said.

"Each is a member of an organisation called the Aryan Strike Force, whose goal it is to clear the country of all ethnic minorities, as they say, whatever it takes."

The prosecutor said Heaton made more than 3,000 posts on the ASF website between January and June 2008, before he had a "bust-up" with the organisation and created his own, The British Freedom Fighters.

The website changed its name to Legion 88 and then Wolfpack, before it was closed down.

Mr Edis explained that the number eight refers to the eighth letter in the alphabet, H. So 88 stands for HH, as in Heil Hitler, a common greeting for neo-Nazis.

Both men used a number of names when they posted their comments on the website. Heaton called himself Wigan Mike, and then later Lenny. Hannington gave himself the names Fist, Lee 88 and Paul.

Heaton and Hannington were remanded in custody until sentencing tomorrow morning.

Police investigating the pair's activities found a variety of weapons at the homes of both men, including knives and firearms.

Heaton's bedroom was adorned in flags with symbols of far-right movements, and a samurai sword hung above his bed.

Elsewhere around the house officers found numchucks, batons, knives and knuckle dusters hanging on the walls, and a BB machine gun was also recovered at the property.

Flags bearing swastikas were strewn around Hannington's house and police found a personal armoury including an air rifle and daggers.

Detective Chief Superintendent David Buxton, head of the North East Counter Terrorism Unit said: "Heaton and Hannington are white supremacists.

"They peddled hatred against innocent people purely on the basis of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and culture.

"Their intolerance is obsessive and goes way beyond offensive posts on ASF and Legion 88 forums.

"They used every opportunity to encourage violent attacks against everyone they took exception to."

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