A couple from Banbury described as ‘neo-Nazis’ were jailed for a total of 11 and a half years for being members of a banned far-right group today (December 18).
Adam Thomas, 22, and Claudia Patatas, 38, both of Waltham Gardens, were found guilty of being part of National Action at Birmingham Crown Court on November 12.
Thomas was also found guilty of possessing terrorist material which included bomb-making instructions.
Thomas was sentenced to six and a half years and Patatas was sentenced to five years in prison after a three-day hearing at the same court.
Four other men were also jailed after being convicted for being members of National Action. All six were arrested on January 3.
• Daniel Bogunovic, 27, of Crown Hills Rise, Leicester, for six years and four months
• Joel Wilmore, 24, of Bramhall Moor Lane, Stockport, for five years and 10 months
• Darren Fletcher, 28, of Kitchen Lane, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, for five years
• Nathan Pryke, 27, of Dartford Road, March, Cambridge, for five years and five months.
Sentencing, Judge Melbourne Inman QC said: “National Action is a terrorist organisation.
“It’s aims and objectives are the overthrow of democracy in this country by serious violence and murder, and the imposition of a Nazi-style state which would eradicate whole sections of society by violence and murder.”
National Action formed in 2013 but was banned following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in June 2016.
Despite being outlawed, the group carried out a ‘white holy war’ to uphold white supremacist values around the country, the trial heard.
The court heard how the group used several methods to disguise their contact with each other such as using pseudonyms through closed, encrypted messaging platforms as well as regularly meeting in person to spread their ideology.
Photos seen by the jury show a man alleged to be Thomas in Klu Klux Klan robes, while another shows the pair with a Swastika flag.
Thomas was also found to have a cache of weapons, including machetes, an axe and crossbows - and carried out target practice in his back garden.
The jury was also told of racist messages Patatas, a former wedding photographer, and Thomas, who used to work as a security guard at the Amazon depot in Banbury, sent on the chat group to people already convicted of being members of National Action.
Following sentencing, head of West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, said: “These sentences are the culmination of two years of painstaking work in the West Midlands and across the country to recognise and understand the threat of National Action.
“These individuals were not simply racist fantasists; we now know they were a dangerous, well-structured organisation.
“Their aim was to spread neo-Nazi ideology by provoking a race war in the UK and they had spent years acquiring the skills to carry this out.
“They had researched how to make explosives, they had gathered weapons and they had a clear structure to radicalise others.
“Unchecked they would have inspired violence and spread hatred and fear across the West Midlands.
“The convictions have dealt a significant blow to National Action. We have dismantled their Midlands Chapter and seen these individuals jailed for lengthy periods but that doesn’t mean the threat they pose will go away.
“Others on the periphery will take on leadership roles and so I again ask for the public’s vigilance – if you see this group’s posters or stickers please report them to police – where there are new cells, we will intercept and prosecute them.”
Det Ch Supt Ward highlighted the commitment by counter terrorism policing to tackle all forms of extremist ideology.
“We have seen many convictions over the past few years in connection with Syria-related terrorism and this work continues apace.
“But extreme groups such as National Action also have the potential to threaten public safety and security.
“We work tirelessly to counter terrorism. Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety and security of the people who live, work and visit the West Midlands area.
“If anyone has any suspicions over an individual’s behaviour and suspects them to be involved in this type of activity, I would urge you to report it to police as soon as possible.
“You can report suspicions online via ACT campaign’s website or call police confidentially on 0800 789 321. In an emergency dial 999.
“Suspicious activity is anything that seems out of place, unusual or just doesn’t seem to fit in with day-to-day life. Let us decide if it is important.”
Deb Walsh from the CPS added: “After National Action was banned it went underground and changed its name but it did not disappear.
“These members continued to believe in its racist neo-Nazi worldview, remained in contact on encrypted messaging apps, and organised meetings to keep the group going.
“But they left a vast trail of incriminating evidence which led to three of them pleading guilty and the others being convicted by a jury.”