Extremist told to read Jane Austen to avoid prison gets jailed as judges overturn sentence

19 January 2022, 19:04

Ben John has been jailed for two years
Ben John has been jailed for two years. Picture: Alamy/Lincolnshire Police

By Will Taylor

A former student described as a "white supremacist" who was convicted of a terror offence has been jailed, having previously been given the chance to dodge a term behind bars if he read English classics.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Ben John, 22, was found guilty of possessing a record likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism after he was found with a copy of the Anarchist's Cookbook.

Police, who described John as holding a neo-Nazi ideology, also found videos praising Adolf Hitler, white supremacist songs and a poster of National Action, the first extreme right wing group to get banned.

He was handed a two-year suspended sentence and told to read literature such as Pride and Prejudice and A Tale of Two Cities at Leicester Crown Court in August.

When he returned to court, John told Judge Timothy Spencer: "I enjoyed Shakespeare more than I did Jane Austen but I still enjoyed Jane Austen by a degree."

But despite saying he had read famous books, John has been jailed.

Read more: White supremacist avoids jail after being told to read Jane Austen instead

The Court of Appeal heard he had been "liking" Nazi-themed content "just five days after promising the judge he had put it behind him".

Alex Chalk QC, the solicitor general, said the sentence was supposed to give "potent control" over John's rehabilitation and claimed it was unduly lenient.

Three judges hearing the case overturned his previous sentence on Wednesday, instead jailing him for two years and giving him a third year on licence.

Lord Justice Holroyde, one of the judges who heard the case, said while some offences require a mandatory year on licence, it is unlawful to combine a suspended sentence and licence period that runs longer than two years.

He said: "The judge had no power to impose a suspended sentence as he did."

The judges added that the original sentence was not unduly lenient, but found it "very" lenient. They said they only overturned the previous sentence due to the lawfulness issue.

"In those circumstances and notwithstanding the judge's understandable aim... we are satisfied that there must be a sentence of immediate imprisonment," Lord Justice Holroyde said.

The change means John has to surrender to a police station by 4pm on Thursday, and he will need to serve at least two-thirds of the two-year jail term.

Mr Chalk, reacting to the judges' decision, said: "The Government is committed to confronting terrorism in all its forms, including from the extreme right wing.

"We remain focused on disrupting the activities of the most dangerous extremists, supporting those who stand up to their hateful rhetoric, and protecting vulnerable people being drawn into terrorism."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

An independent review recommended teachers and nurses get 5.5% pay rises

'There’s also a cost to no deal': Treasury minister hints at above-inflation pay rise for public sector workers

Yvette Cooper vows to crackdown on illegal immigration

Beauty salons and car washes to be targeted in illegal immigration blitz as Home Secretary redeploys Rwanda scheme staff

Sarah Justine Packwood, 54, and her husband, Brett Clibbery, 70.

Mystery as Brit woman and husband attempting to cross Atlantic found dead in lifeboat one month after going missing

Exclusive
Five days of big names: LBC announces guest host week

Five days of big names: LBC announces guest host week

Rachel Reeves

Rachel Reeves vows 'big bang' for pensions as government launches review in bid to boost investment and savings

Amanda Abbington has claimed Giovanni Pernice was 'cruel and abusive'.

Strictly's Amanda Abbington breaks silence over 'cruel' Giovanni Pernice - as first female pro under fire

Donald Trump spoke at a rally for the first time since he was shot in the ear

Donald Trump says he ‘took a bullet for democracy’ at first rally since assassination attempt

A burnt out car in the Leeds suburb of Harehills, after vehicles were set on fire and a police car was overturned as residents were warned to stay home following an outbreak of disorder on Thursday evening. Picture date: Friday July 19, 2024.

Man charged with arson after bus set on fire in Leeds riots over children allegedly removed from local family

Craig Revel Horwood has said the recent allegations have come as a 'shock' to him

Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood breaks silence after 'shock' of dancing show's abuse allegations

A series of Israeli strikes have been launched against the Houthi-controlled port city of Hodeidah in Yemen

Israel launches series of air strikes on Houthi-controlled city in Yemen day after group claim deadly attack on Tel Aviv

Jay Slater and his mum, Debbie Duncan

Jay Slater's GoFundMe page hits £70k after teen's mum appeals for funeral donations

Holidaymakers have been left stranded during global IT outage

'We're not being given any information': Furious holidaymaker stranded in Rhodes tells of travel hell after IT outage

A burnt out car in the Leeds suburb of Harehills, after vehicles were set on fire and a police car was overturned as residents were warned to stay home following an outbreak of disorder on Thursday evening. Picture date: Friday July 19, 2024.

Further unrest in Leeds as hundreds take to streets to 'demand return of children' allegedly removed from local family

NHS England has warned of "continued disruption" to GP services into next week.

NHS warns of GP disruption after global IT outage as trains, planes and roads remain in chaos leaving Brits stranded

Planes, trains and roads have been hit by travel chaos following Friday's IT outage.

Holiday hell: Trains, planes and roads in chaos after global IT outage - with thousands of Brits stranded abroad

Graham Gomm

Prisoner who escaped custody at HMP Wormwood Scrubs during hospital trip is arrested following manhunt