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White supremacist avoids jail after being told to read Jane Austen instead
1 September 2021, 11:34 | Updated: 1 September 2021, 18:22
A white supremacist has avoided jail after being told to read classics like Pride and Prejudice by a judge.
Ben John accessed instructions to make explosives and nearly 70,000 documents including anti-Semitic material.
The 21-year-old former De Montfort University student was found guilty of possessing a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism in August.
As he avoided being sent to prison, he was given a reading list including Charles Dickens and Shakespeare and told to return in to court in January to check on his progress, Leicestershire Live reported.
Lincolnshire Police said John, who is originally from Lincoln but studied in Leicester, had gathered 67,788 documents onto computer hard drives including white supremacist and anti-Semitic material.
Satanist-related material was also found.
He also accessed a "radical publication" that circulated in the 1970s which contained diagrams and instructions on making explosive devices.
One of the hard drives was found in a sock when officers searched his home.
LeicestershireLive said that Judge Timothy Spencer QC asked John at sentencing: "Have you read Dickens? Austen? Start with Pride and Prejudice and Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
"Think about Hardy. Think about Trollope. On January 4 you will tell me what you have read and I will test you on it.
"I will test you and if I think you are [lying to] me you will suffer."
John had become part of the "extreme right wing" online, police said, and was arrested while studying criminology and psychology.
Police said the phrase "extreme right wing" is used for people who commit "criminal activity motivated by a political or cultural view point encompassing racism, extreme nationalism, fascism and Neo Nazism".
John's defence argued he was unlikely to cause harm and had engaged with the anti-radicalisation programme Prevent, Leicestershire Live reports.
He was given two years in prison, suspended for two years.
He must also let police monitor his activities online for five years.