James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Neo-Nazi couple facing jail for being 'active members' of banned group
8 June 2020, 19:45
Four neo-Nazi "diehards" are facing jail terms for being "active members" of the banned terrorist group National Action (NA).
Alice Cutter and her ex-partner, Mark Jones, appeared at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday, along with Garry Jack and Connor Scothern.
The extreme right-wing group, whose members have been described as "diehards" by the Director of Public Prosecutions, was banned in December 2016 after a series of rallies and incidents, including praising the murder of MP Jo Cox.
Former Miss Hitler beauty pageant contestant Cutter and her ex Jones, both of Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax, West Yorkshire, as well as Jack and Scothern, were all convicted of membership of a terrorist group, after a trial in March.
At their sentencing on Monday, Cutter was described as "an active member" by prosecuting barrister Barnaby Jameson.
Frustration with a lack of activism in her native Yorkshire led her to join the NA's Midlands sub-group, whose membership was "determined to defy the ban".
The 23-year-old, who entered the beauty contest as Miss Buchenwald - a reference to the Second World War death camp - had denied being a member, despite attending the group's rallies, in which banners reading "Hitler was right" were raised.
Jurors were also shown messages in which she joked about gassing synagogues, and using a Jew's head as a football.
In one exchange with another NA member on the day after Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered, referring to the politician, Cutter said: "Rot in hell, b**ch."
Cutter also made an attempt to recruit a 15-year-old girl, albeit unsuccessfully, the judge heard.
Mr Jameson said it was "part of a pattern" by her and Jones "targeting individuals for recruitment at a time when National Action was a banned organisation".
The Crown prosecutor said it was "no coincidence" that Cutter entered the Miss Hitler beauty pageant, pre-ban, under the name "Buchenwald Princess", as Jones visited the Nazi-era death camp in 2016.
Cutter's barrister, Liam Walker, said she was a "20-year-old racist, anti-Semitic waitress" at the time, who was vulnerable and lacked maturity.
Jones, a former member of the British National Party's youth wing, was described as a "leader and strategist" who played a "prominent and active role".
The 25-year-old, originally the group's London regional organiser, acknowledged posing for a photograph while delivering a Nazi-style salute and holding an NA flag in Buchenwald's execution room, on a trip to Germany.
The railway engineer's trial also heard that he had links to members of extreme right-wing groups in Ukraine and eastern Europe.
Mr Jameson said that, even after NA's ban, Jones designed propaganda for two splinter groups, NS131 and Scottish Dawn, both later banned.
But while still an NA member, Jones hand-picked his "successor" for London, before moving to Yorkshire to be with Cutter.
Jones, who grew up in foster care amid a backdrop of domestic violence by his biological father against his mother, also organised members' physical training including boxing sessions in Swindon.
Jack, appearing via video-link for the sentencing, was described by Mr Jameson as "an active and committed member" of the group, turning up to "almost every Midlands meet-up".
Jack had previously been given a suspended jail term for plastering Birmingham's Aston University campus with racially-aggravating National Action stickers in July 2016, some of which read "Britain is ours, the rest must go".
Jack, 24, of Heathland Avenue, Birmingham, distributed the stickers with Alexander Deakin and Daniel Bogunovic, also since convicted of being senior group members, and another man, Chad Williams-Allen, of Bird End, West Bromwich.
Jack wrote a letter to the judge stating: "I have turned my back on the far right."
Scothern, of Bagnall Avenue, Nottingham, was "one of the most active members of the group", said Mr Jameson, and "considered future leadership material".
Another leading member once observed that Scothern had "driven himself into poverty" by travelling to member meetings and self-funding 1,500 stickers, calling for a "Final Solution" - in reference to the Nazi's genocide of Jews.
When police searched Scothern's address after his arrest, only 148 of the stickers were found.
The judge heard that one sticker had made its way to a lamppost in Portugal, courtesy of an NA member in the country.
But barrister Gerard Hillman, for Scothern, described him as vulnerable and "under the influence of others".
Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday: "They are diehards in the way that they think.
"They hark back to the days of not just anti-Semitism, but the Holocaust, the Third Reich in Germany, and they take their mindset from those extreme Nazi groups and latterly neo-Nazi groups in Germany."
The four will be sentenced on Tuesday.