White supremacist who collected bomb manuals and expressed admiration for Hitler spared jail

George Fowle claimed he wanted to petrol bomb Camp America before being arrested at Heathrow

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Wednesday 20 May 2020 16:51 BST
George Fowle pleaded guilty to two terror offences at the Old Bailey
George Fowle pleaded guilty to two terror offences at the Old Bailey (PA)

A white supremacist who collected explosives manuals and claimed he wanted to attack a US summer camp has been spared jail.

A judge told George Fowle he was being given a second chance while handing him a suspended prison sentence for terror offences.

The 20-year-old, of Snodland in Kent, was arrested at Heathrow Airport on his way to Camp America last June.

Counter-terror police said he had a video of the Christchurch terror attack on his phone, as well as more than 400 “images of far-right figures and emblems”.

Fowle had written that he admired Adolf Hitler on social media and filmed himself draped in the St George’s flag loading an air rifle and handgun.

He had started downloading documents on making homemade explosives aged 17, and was referred to the Prevent counter-extremism programme in March 2019 after a fellow student raised fears that he could become a “school shooter”.

Officers found postcards containing offensive slogans about religion, race and gender at his home.

Prosecutor Dan Pawson-Pounds told the Old Bailey that seized material showed Fowle had an “entrenched extreme right-wing and racist mindset, as well as an interest in explosives, firearms and mass casualty incidents in public places, such as schools”.

Investigators also found a Snapchat comment sent by Fowle on 10 June, which said: “I want to petrol bomb Camp America.”

The court heard there was no evidence of any risk to Camp America, and nothing to suggest Fowle had tried to use the viable explosive-making instructions or had any links with terrorist groups.

Fowle had also searched the internet for “black market guns” and instructions for homemade firearms, and referred to the Siege neo-Nazi ideology.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing material useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism.

Defence barrister Gavin Holme said Fowle needed help to increase his maturity and that his guilty pleas showed his “remorse and responsibility”.

“This is a young man who the authorities can work with, and not against,” he said.

Sentencing Fowle, Judge Mark Dennis QC called his behaviour “shameful and very disturbing”.

“You have purported to embrace a vile mindset, which should have no place in a tolerant, democratic and peaceful society,” he added.

The judge said a sentence of 20 months in a young offenders’ institution, suspended for two years, along with a 60-month probation programme and 120 hours of unpaid work, would reduce the risk of Fowle re-engaging with extremist ideology.

He added: ”I hope you listened to my words. You are being given a chance today. It’s not ‘mend your ways’, it’s ‘change your ways’.

“Wake up to how dreadful your views were and how dreadful your conduct was. You are part of a civilised society.”

He was sentenced on Monday amid warnings over the potential for online radicalisation during the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.

Det Ch Supt Kath Barnes, head of Counterterror Police South East, said: “Although 17 at the time, there is no doubt that Fowle has demonstrated the mind-set of a right-wing terrorist, and given his interest in mass casualty incidents and his research into explosives, it’s vital that he has been convicted.

“All varieties of extremist ideology have the potential to threaten public safety and security, and we are committed to tackling all forms of terrorism to keep our communities in the south east safe. I’d like to thank everyone involved in this case for their diligent work as the weight of evidence has given him little option but to plead guilty.”

Update: A spokesperson for Camp America said Fowle was not on its programme, and the brand name appears to have been used as a “generic term"

A statement said: "Whilst we are the best known US summer camp programme, Fowle was not and never had been selected for participation on the Camp America programme and to suggest he had any association with our programme is incorrect."

Additional reporting by PA

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