A neo-Nazi terrorist who called for violent white supremacist terror against Muslim and Jewish communities online will spend the next two years locked up in a young offenders institute.
Thomas Leech, 19, from Preston, pleaded guilty to encouraging acts of terrorism and stirring up religious or racial hatred at Manchester Crown Court.
When arrested by counter-terror officers, Leech confessed that he was a Nazi. Following bail, Leech continued posting extremist, racist content online.
He also promoted the infamous white supremacist conspiracy of the so-called “Great Replacement,” which has inspired various acts of racist terror globally – including the murder of 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Leech glorified various neo-Nazi terrorists – Anders Breivik, Robert Bowers, Dylann Roof and the Christchurch terrorist.
The racist screeds of Thomas Leech on GAB also came to the attention of the antisemitism watchdog and charity that works to support Jewish communities, the Community Security Trust in 2020, whose research includes how extremist platforms like GAB serve as hotbeds for racist conspiracies about Jewish communities – notably when it concerns Covid-19.
In mitigation, Leech’s defence said, “He was doing it because he needed a feeling of belonging and significance and literally had time on his hands.”
Two years prior, police issued Leech with a warning over claims that he planned a shooting at his school in Wetherby, West Yorkshire in early 2017, which they claimed was a mere “prank”.
Leech also engaged with Prevent but “dropped off the radar” after relocating to Gillingham, Kent, in the summer of 2017.
Detective Superintendent Will Chatterton, head of CTPNW investigations, said: “Leech’s comments and behaviour online was despicable and a thorough investigation was able to identify these posts and evidence them before the courts.
“CTPNW will always take complaints of this nature very seriously and exercise full powers to bring offenders to justice.”
Judge Alan Conrad QC branded Leech’s action as “deeply disturbing”.
Leech is one of several cases of successful convictions of neo-Nazi terrorists in the UK, who overwhelmingly fit an age profile of under thirty.