Oli Dugmore 4am - 7am
'Anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist' jailed over plot to destroy 5g phone masts with crossbow
8 June 2023, 06:44 | Updated: 8 June 2023, 10:32
An anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist has been jailed for 12 months for plotting to destroy mobile phone masts.
Listen to this article
Conspiracy theorist Christine Grayson, 59, discussed "getting rid" of the mobile phone masts with expanding foam and angle grinders, after “becoming obsessed” with the belief that they were linked to the Covid-19 vaccine, Leeds Crown Court heard.
On Friday, at the end of a five-week terrorism trial, the charity fundraiser was found guilty of conspiracy to commit criminal damage and acquitted of encouraging terrorism.
Her co-defendant Darren Reynolds, 60, was convicted of eight terrorist offences, but acquitted of the criminal damage charge.
Grayson's intentions came to light during an online message exchange on Telegram, where she expressed her desire for a "sabotage team" to remove the 5G masts near her location, linking them to the Covid-19 vaccine.
The trial, held at Leeds Crown Court, revealed Grayson's strong opposition to the 5G network and her perception of the masts as "enemy infrastructure." In a separate but related case, 60-year-old Darren Reynolds, who was convicted of eight terrorist offences, will be sentenced alongside Grayson.
Reynolds' charges included encouraging terrorism through online comments advocating for the assassination of Members of Parliament.
The police discovered various concerning items during their investigation, such as a crossbow with bolts at Grayson's address and replica assault rifles at Reynolds' residence.
Grayson was jailed for 12 months. Because she has been in custody on remand awaiting trial for nine months, she will be released "almost immediately," Leeds Crown Court heard.
The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl KC said she was a “person of good character” and a regular charity fundraiser, who had started to post online about the dangers of 5G from 2021-22.
Although Grayson “did not get beyond the planning stage”, she had chosen to take the law into her own hands, discussing methods of removing them, saying she needed a “sabotage team”, and posting videos of burning masts.
Grayson, of Boothwood Road, Rawcliffe, had denied all charges against her, as had Reynolds, of Newbould Crescent, Sheffield.
He was jailed for 12 years with an extra year on licence after he completes the 12 years.
Both defendants were under scrutiny by counter-terrorism police, leading to their arrest and subsequent trial. Grayson, residing on Boothwood Road in Rawcliffe, denied the charge of conspiracy to commit criminal damage in relation to the masts but was ultimately convicted.
However, she was acquitted of the charge of encouraging terrorism. Reynolds, residing on Newbould Crescent in Sheffield, was acquitted of the conspiracy to commit criminal damage charge and two charges of disseminating a terrorist publication.
He was found guilty of one count of encouraging terrorism, one of disseminating a terrorist publication, and six counts of possessing material likely to be useful for committing an act of terrorism. He denied all the charges against him.
The court heard that in one police interview, Reynolds asked officers: "Do I look like a terrorist to you?"
Detective Chief Superintendent James Dunkerley, Head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, expressed concerns over the divisive and hateful views propagated by individuals like Grayson and Reynolds.
He emphasized the potential of a single post or video to radicalize and incite others to commit acts of terrorism. Dunkerley encouraged the public to report any suspicious activities or content they come across, assuring them that concerns can be reported confidentially on the official government website.
During the trial, the prosecution revealed that Grayson and Reynolds were acquainted through the social media platform Telegram, where they regularly interacted between 2020 and 2022. Both subscribed to an anti-authoritarian ideology that encompassed various conspiracy theories.
One notable statement made by Reynolds on June 29, 2021, called for storming the Parliament and the Lords, and executing them on the spot for alleged crimes including treason, sedition, insurgency, attempted genocide, and crimes against the people of Great Britain.
In a police interview, Reynolds posed the question to officers, asking if he appeared to be a terrorist.