January 20, 2022 7.30 pm This story is over 29 months old

Antisemitism campaigners celebrate reversal of Lincoln extremist’s “joke” sentence

Court of Appeal gave him an immediate two-year jail term

By Local Democracy Reporter

An antisemitism campaign group has said it is pleased the Court of Appeal decided to reverse the “alarming joke of a sentence” given to Lincoln man Ben John, convicted of far right terror offences.

Ben John, 22, of Addison Drive in Lincoln, was found guilty of one count of having in his possession a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism in August last year at Leicester Crown Court.

He was initially handed a two-year suspended sentence by the judge, and ordered to read classic English literature such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens novels instead.

John was convicted after the court heard how he became a part of the Extreme Right Wing online, a group with views encompassing racism, extreme fascism and Neo Nazism.

Forensic investigators also found he had downloaded a radical publication called the Anarchist Cookbook 2000, which contains instructions on how to make an explosive device.

More than 67,000 documents containing a wealth of white supremacist and anti-semitic content were also found when police searched his home, with a hard drive stuffed inside a sock in Ben John’s bedroom.

The sentencing was criticised widely across the nation, and activist group Hope Not Hate issued an open letter to the Attorney General to call for a review.

The letter seemingly worked, as the Court of Appeal was referred to look into the case under the unduly lenient sentencing scheme.

At a review hearing following this referral, the judge quizzed Ben John on his reading of literature, and said he was “encouraged” by his progress, but that didn’t stop the Court of Appeal ultimately reversing his decision.

John was ordered to serve two years in prison by the Court of Appeal, with a further year on extended license; a far cry from the original suspended sentence he was given.

Responding to the sentence, activist group Campaign Against Antisemitism said the original sentence was an “alarming joke” and the British public can “sleep safer” knowing he is behind bars.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “We know from hard experience that sometimes it takes time to get justice, but Ben John has today finally received an appropriate custodial sentence.

“The Attorney General was absolutely right to ask the Court of Appeal to review the pathetic original sentence. It was inexplicable that a man who collected nearly 70,000 neo-Nazi and terror-related documents could entirely avoid prison for crimes that carry a maximum jail term of fifteen years.

“Instead, Ben John left court with a mere suspended sentence and some English homework.

“The British public can sleep safer tonight knowing that the Court of Appeal has shown sense, rectified the alarming joke of a sentence originally handed down to Mr John, and jailed a dangerous individual.”