Ben John was given a suspended sentence at Leicester Crown Court in August (Picture: MEN Media)
The sentence of a right-wing extremist who was told to read classic novels as he was spared jail for a terrorism offence will be reviewed by the Court of Appeal under the ‘unduly lenient’ scheme.
Ben John, who police described as a white supremacist with a neo-Nazi ideology, was given a two-year suspended sentence at Leicester Crown Court in August.
He was found guilty of possessing a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism following the discovery of a document containing diagrams and instructions on how to construct various explosive devices.
The 21-year-old, from Lincoln, had also amassed 67,788 documents in bulk downloads onto hard drives, containing ‘a wealth’ of white supremacist and anti-Semitic material. The charge under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act has a maximum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment.
His sentence came under scrutiny after the judge reportedly called the offence ‘an act of teenage folly’ and invited John to swap extremist literature for famous works including Pride And Prejudice.
During the hearing, Judge Timothy Spencer QC is reported to have asked him: ‘Have you read Dickens? Austen? Start with Pride And Prejudice and Dickens’s 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.’
His sentence came under scrutiny after the judge reportedly invited him to swap extremist literature for classics (Picture: Leicester Mercury/BPM Media)
Lincolnshire Police later said it would seek to appeal the sentence and the Attorney General’s Office has now stepped in, with a spokesman saying: ‘I can confirm that the Attorney General has referred Ben John’s sentence to the Court of Appeal as she agrees that it appears unduly lenient.
‘It is now for the Court to decide whether to increase the sentence.’
The decision came after anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate sent an open letter, asking for the case to be considered under the unduly lenient sentence (ULS) scheme.
The letter, written by Hope Not Hate’s chief executive Nick Lowles, stated: ‘A suspended sentence and a suggested reading list of English classics for a terror conviction is unduly lenient for a crime of this nature.
‘This sentence is sending a message that violent right-wing extremists may be treated leniently by the courts.’
The unduly lenient sentence scheme covers a variety of serious offences including certain types of hate crime and some terror-related offences.
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