A 21-year-old white supremacist has eluded jail and been sentenced to read books instead.
Ben John, who downloaded nearly 70,000 white supremacist and neo-Nazi documents and bomb-making instructions, has to stay clear of white supremacy books as part of the terms, and read novels such as Pride and Prejudice and Great Expectations.
John also has to return to court every four months where he will be tested on his reading by Judge Timothy Spencer, who gave him the unusual punishment.
Spencer described John as missing out on jail by ‘the skin of his teeth’.
The 21-year-old had first been identified as a terror attack threat three years ago, Mail Online reports, after downloading ‘repellent’ right-wing documents.
He also obtained a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook, which explains how to build explosives.
John was then referred to the Prevent programme – a government counter-terrorism strategy that works to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.
Fast forward to August of this year, John was found guilty of possessing information likely to be useful for preparing an act of terror. The jury was told such crimes had a maximum jail sentence of 15 years.
Despite this and his history, Judge Spencer said his crime was likely to be ‘an act of teenage folly’ and an isolated incident.
Discussing the books he expects John to read, the judge asked him, ‘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,’ he added.
The judge went on to say that he’ll be watching John ‘every step of the way’, and threatened he knows what will happen if he lets him down.
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