Former RAF cadet defaced Port Talbot Windrush mural with Nazi symbols
A former RAF cadet daubed a Windrush mural with Nazi symbols and fantasised about making a gun and killing a schoolboy, a court has heard.
The 17-year-old from south Wales admitted a string of terror offences and criminal damage and appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday.
The court heard how the youth was referred to the Prevent de-radicalisation programme last spring by the Royal Air Force Air Cadets.
Last September, he was expelled from the group after he sent images to other cadets bare chested with a Swastika painted on his chest and was banned from Instagram for posting racist and Nazi images.
The youth, then aged 16, went on to paint graffiti on a Windrush mural in Port Talbot, which celebrates the town’s Caribbean community, on two occasions in October and November.
Community members were shaken and disgusted after several swastikas, the phrase “Nazi zone”, white supremacist symbol “1488” and a racial slur appeared on the mural hours after it was completed.
The mural depicts Donna Campbell, a much-loved nurse and daughter of the Windrush generation who died during the pandemic, and her mother Lydia, known as Mrs Campbell in her community, with a merged image of a Welsh dragon and the Jamaican flag.
The teenager had bragged about his actions on Telegram telling a user: “Check my art out. Didn’t even spray this shit. I pulled up with a f****** paint brush.”
On October 31 last year he was involved in setting off a smoke bomb at The Queer Emporium in Cardiff, which damaged the floor.
The emporium was targeted because it is a centre for the local LGBT+ community, the court was told.
Prosecutor Lucy Jones outlined how the full extent of the defendant’s right-wing ideology was laid bare after he was arrested on November 8 last year.
In a search of his bedroom, police found a stash of knives, an air rifle and antisemitic literature.
A copy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf had been bought for him by his mother and contained the defendant’s handwritten notes, Ms Jones said.
Other items from the defendant’s room included gas masks and flags bearing a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) symbol and a swastika.
The defendant’s electronic devices were seized and the court was shown homemade videos and images in which he made Nazi salutes and shared his far-right ideology.
In one video, the youth talked about “white power” while wearing a swastika pendant, which he was regularly seen sporting on social media.
In other videos, he posed with an air gun and referred to himself as the “KKK” and “Hitler’s strongest soldier”.
The court was told that on one occasion he had fired the gun through the skylight in his bedroom.
His internet search history revealed a fascination with far-right mass killers and extreme groups such as the Atomwaffen Division.
Ms Jones said: “There appears to be an unhealthy interest in school shootings and videos showing live coverage of these shootings taking place.
Ms Jones said: “He is an isolated and angry youth who spends a considerable amount of time reading extreme right-wing, white supremacist literature and he had violent fantasies.”
The defendant’s diary also outlined a desire for “race war”, the court was told.
Among the entries was a hate-filled rant about an Asian schoolmate who be believed “grassed” on him.
He wrote: “I would be doing the world a favour if I just killed him.”
A list of life goals included “burn a building down, maybe bomb it”, “kill someone”, “join a Nazi militia”, “get a gun or make one” and “get buff as hell”.
The prosecutor said the defendant was not just a “keyboard warrior”, saying: “He’s carrying out his ideals not just in relation to the criminal damage but advocating in views in his social media. He’s not anonymous, he is willing to show his face and share and support his views.”
In June, the youth pleaded guilty to eight charges – two of possessing a terrorist document, three of distributing a terrorist document and three charges of criminal damage.
One of the terrorist documents the youth shared with another teenager gave details on bombmaking, derailing trains, attacking power lines and kidnapping police officers, as well as glorifying notorious mass murderers.
He possessed and disseminated another manual with “step-by-step” instructions on gun-making.
In mitigation, David Elias KC said the defendant’s parents were in court and were “fully supportive of him”.
He said they thought he had knives for “field craft” in the cadets and knew nothing about his extremist online activities.
Mr Elias said: “(The defendant) was a member of the cadet force and his father allowed him to use that air rifle. A target range was set up in the garden for him to practise what he was already doing at the cadets.”
He added that his collection of gas masks should be seen in the context of his fascination with the Second World War.
The defendant had been diagnosed with autism and during the pandemic found it easier to talk to people and make friends online, the court was told.
Mr Justice Jeremy Baker observed an impression could be formed that the defendant’s parents “cherished their child to the extent he could not do anything wrong”.
Mr Elias replied: “They did not know what he was doing and when they found out they were, as anyone who has seen those videos and messages, absolutely appalled.”
Mr Justice Baker said it was a troubling case and told the defendant his sentencing would be adjourned until September 21.
The defendant was granted continued bail.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.