Teenager ‘planned far-right terror attack’ on police stations after being mentored by Prevent scheme

Luke Skelton was referred to government counter-extremism programme by concerned teachers

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Editor
Tuesday 03 May 2022 19:31 BST
<p>Luke Skelton is accused of carrying out hostile reconnaissance at Forth Banks police station in Newcastle </p>

Luke Skelton is accused of carrying out hostile reconnaissance at Forth Banks police station in Newcastle

A teenager planned a far-right terror attack after being referred to the government’s Prevent scheme over extremism concerns, a court has heard.

Luke Skelton, now 18, is accused of carrying out “hostile reconnaissance” of police stations in Newcastle and writing a manifesto and “final note” to spread his message after the attack.

He denies preparing acts of terrorism in the year to October 2021.

Teesside Crown Court heard that Mr Skelton wrote that he aimed to “accelerate the coming collapse and racial war” in Britain, when people would die “in the thousands”.

The note was drafted in January 2021, months after staff at his school had reported him to Prevent.

Prosecutor Nicholas de la Poer QC told jurors that teachers at Gateshead College “became concerned” during the first term of his second year, when Mr Skelton was 17.

They saw “images of concern” in a workbook, and when challenged the pupil told them he had “strong views about immigration and held right wing views”.

The court heard that a referral was made to Prevent in November 2020, but Mr Skelton did not have his first meeting with an “intervention provider” until the following March.

Mr de la Poer said that in the intervening time, the teenager viewed online material “consistent with ideas of white supremacy and fascism”, researched the manufacture of dynamite and wrote the “final note”.

The teenager attended the first of eight sessions with a Prevent intervention provider 10 days later, and the court heard that he withdrew from the programme in May 2021.

He is accused of continuing extremist activity during the period, including downloading a video featuring Adolf Hitler, researching how to make napalm and recording himself making a speech about a coming race war.

“You will be able to judge for yourselves whether he had been successfully de-radicalised at the point he refused to engage any further with Prevent,” Mr de la Poer told jurors.

“The case of the prosecution is that he certainly had not.”

Jurors were shown messages allegedly written by the defendant on Discord under the name “Adolf Hitler” the following summer, where he called non-whites “backward and savage”, and referred to “subhumans”.

Mr Skelton was arrested on 12 June 2021 on suspicion of possessing documents useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism, but released on bail.

The court heard that the following month, police returned his electronic devices and informed him that no further action would be taken.

He allegedly wrote on Discord that he was “angry” at himself for not “doing anything” before being arrested.

“I feel like a disgusting parasite for not doing something earlier and to become the great man of history this is what I must do just as I planned,” he allegedly wrote. “The way to make up for me failing to do this.”

Jurors were told that he continued researching explosives and suggested online that he could target a drag queen or grooming gang members.

On 2 August, he allegedly wrote: “F*** this f***ng bullshit I wish I had gone through with the attack and not been debating this sh**e I have done f*** all with my and never will do I should be f***ing dead”.

The court heard that Mr Skelton told contacts he was using an online platform to obtain the identities of grooming gang members, to “hunt down these f***ers and behead them”.

He also referred to a drag performer as a “f***ing target” and posted a link to their show.

Mr de la Poer said that his writing about grooming gangs and drag queens on Discord “may have been more for shock value or attention than anything else”, but that at the same time he was privately planning to attack police stations.

“Why he chose to focus on police stations is not a question which is answered definitively by the evidence,” the prosecutor added.

“It may be the anger which the Prevent intervention and arrest had generated.”

In a previous session with his mentor, Mr Skelton allegedly said that police buildings needed to be bombed in order to overthrow governments.

The court heard that the teenager was visited by officers from the programme in August and refused again to engage.

Days later, he created a new document called “The reactionary British manifesto”.

Mr Skelton allegedly wrote that he wanted “Britain to become again” and listed policies including restoring the British empire, ensuring “native British” people were at least 93 per cent of the population, outlawing Islam, and abolishing women’s right to vote and gay marriage.

Mr de la Poer said the manifesto was “created as part of the plan”, and was intended to be a blueprint for the future.

On 10 August, the teenager allegedly wrote a note to himself described as a “brief overview of plan”, including finishing his final note and manifesto, quitting his job and “building bomb to attack police stations”.

The following month, he researched police stations in Newcastle, taking screenshots of aerial views of three premises - Byker, Etal Lane and Forth Banks.

On 29 September, he carried out what prosecutors called “hostile reconnaissance” by taking photos of Forth Banks police station and nearby CCTV cameras.

He was arrested for the second time on 28 October and charged with preparing acts of terrorism.

The court heard that on 3 November, a search at a police station found that Mr Skelton was carrying a note addressed to people in Europe “and the rest of the civilised world”, asking them to “hear his voice” on the “replacement” of white people.

“Even after he had been arrested for the second time, Luke Skelton was rehearsing for a speech in which he promotes fascist ideas,” Mr de la Poer said. “This was because he believed those views and he intended to act upon those views.”

Mr Skelton, of Oxclose in Washington, denies preparing acts of terrorism and the trial continues.

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