Neo-Nazi jailed for plotting to kill Asian friend who he likened to a 'cockroach'

19 October 2021, 20:27 | Updated: 19 October 2021, 20:56

Neo-nazi Matthew Cronjager has been sentenced to 11 years and four months in youth detention.
Neo-Nazi Matthew Cronjager has been sentenced to 11 years and four months in youth detention. Picture: Counter Terrorism Police

By Sophie Barnett

A teenage neo-Nazi who plotted to shoot an Asian friend who he likened to a "cockroach" has been locked up for more than 11 years.

Matthew Cronjager, 18, tried to get hold of a 3D printed gun or a sawn-off shotgun to kill his target, because he "slept with white chicks".

Following a trial at the Old Bailey, Cronjager was found guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications on Telegram, an online messaging platform.

The court heard that the teenager had set himself up as the "boss" of a right-wing terror cell and created an online library to share right-wing propaganda and explosives-making manuals.

An undercover police officer, who had infiltrated a Telegram group called The British Hand, managed to scupper Cronjager's plans.

On the first day of his trial, Cronjager - originally from Ingatestone in Essex - admitted four charges of possessing terror documents.

On Tuesday, the defendant was sentenced to a total of 11 years and four months in youth detention.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC told him: "In giving evidence in the trial it was obvious that you are a bright and intelligent young man.

"In a way that makes the content of some of the messages you sent all the more troubling.

"In my view you are someone who played a leading role in terrorist activity where the preparations were not far advanced."

The judge noted character references he had received from Cronjager's parents and others who had known him for many years.

However, he added: "Some of the letters state that you pose no threat and where there is no victim.

"I should simply say that those are matters that are at odds with the evidence in the messaging in this case and with the victim impact statement."

Cronjager's victim had said in his statement that he felt "sad, hurt and betrayed".

He told police he thought Cronjager was joking, but later said "it broke his heart" to hear what he had been planning.

"The strange thing was it wasn't just the fact that Matt was plotting to kill me that hurt initially, it was the fact that we had been having serious conversations about our future, and we had been exchanging Christmas greetings, meanwhile in the background he was planning to make that my last Christmas, that really hurt."

The court heard the victim was left "simmering with anger" towards Cronjager and "on the brink of self harm".

Lawyer Tim Forte said Cronjager "bitterly regrets" the harm he caused and offered an apology.

In mitigation, Mr Forte argued that "young" and "immature" Cronjager could yet be integrated into society.

The court had previously heard how the defendant wanted a "revolution" based on his fascist beliefs, including hatred of non-white people, Jews, Muslims and those with a different sexual orientation to his.

He had offered to lead the UK division of an extreme right-wing group calling itself Exiled 393, telling members that his time as an army cadet had given him the necessary skills.

Cronjager even suggested setting up a collective PayPal account to buy weapons and other items for the group.

In one message, he wrote: "I was thinking more of having it to buy things like big tents or a 3D printer maybe for creating bits of 'art'," said to be code for guns.

In further messages to the undercover officer in December, he and Cronjager discussed arranging a drop-off location for 3D printed guns, the court heard, and of the supplier needing more money to pay for materials.

On the same day, Cronjager formulated his plot to kill his former friend after he boasted to him of sleeping with three white women.

The defendant told the undercover officer: "I've found someone I want to execute.

"I know it's an overall target and he's a sand n***** that f***** a white girl.

"In fact I think three of them.

"I figure we could just 'find' a double barrel shotgun and saw it down for things like this."

Cronjager then added: "They're like cockroaches", the court heard.

When asked if his former friend had raped the girls, he allegedly replied: "Nope, but it's a violation of nature.

"We're not supposed to mix race ... it's not rape by legal definition but it's kind of like rape if that makes sense.

"Violation at least."

Cronjager attempted to explain his behaviour by claiming to police he was a member of anti-fascist organisation Antifa.

But during his trial he accepted he had held extreme far-right views, saying he now felt "ashamed and disgusted" by them.

The jury was told that the defendant was on the autism disorder spectrum, with a mild level of severity, and had a high IQ.

Cronjager was sentenced to a total of 11 years and four months in youth detention.