Essex teenage neo-Nazi locked up for 11 years after plotting terrorist acts

Matthew Cronjager court case
Undated handout photo issued by Counter Terrorism Policing North East of Matthew Cronjager who has been found guilty of plotting terrorist acts at the Old Bailey in London. Issue date: Friday September 3, 2021.
Matthew Cronjager, 18, from Ingatestone in Essex has been sentenced to more than 11 years in youth custody for plotting terrorist acts Credit: Counter Terrorism Policing North East

A teenage neo-Nazi from Essex who plotted to shoot an Asian friend because he slept with “white chicks” has been locked up for more than 11 years.

Matthew Cronjager, 18, from Ingatestone near Chelmsford tried to get hold of a 3D printed gun or a sawn-off shotgun to kill his target, who he likened to a “cockroach”.

He set himself up as the “boss” of a right-wing terror cell and created an online library to share right-wing propaganda and explosives-making manuals.

Cronjager’s plans were scuppered by an undercover police officer who had infiltrated an online Telegram group called The British Hand.

Following a trial at the Old Bailey, Cronjager was found guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications on Telegram.

He had admitted four charges of possessing terror documents on the first day of his trial and was sentenced on Tuesday to a total of 11 years and four months in youth detention.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC said Cronjager was a “bright and intelligent” man, which made it “all the more troubling”.

He said Cronjager had “played a leading role in terrorist activity”.

In a victim impact statement, Cronjager’s victim said he felt “sad, hurt and betrayed”.

He said: “When I first got told the news by the CT police I just brushed it off that Matt must have been joking about.

“The next day when the police came back to see me and said that there had not been a mistake and Matt had said those things, and to be honest at that moment of realisation it broke my heart.

“The strange thing was it wasn’t just the fact that Matt was plotting to kill me that hurt initially, it was the fact that we had been having serious conversations about our future, and we had been exchanging Christmas greetings, meanwhile in the background he was planning to make that my last Christmas, that really hurt.”

In mitigation, lawyer Tim Forte said Cronjager “bitterly regrets” the harm he caused and offered an apology.

Mr Forte argued that “young” and “immature” Cronjager could yet be integrated into society.

The court had previously heard how the defendant wanted a “revolution” based on his fascist beliefs, including hatred of non-white people, Jews, Muslims and those with a different sexual orientation to his.

He had offered to lead the UK division of an extreme right-wing group calling itself Exiled 393, telling members that his time as an army cadet had given him the necessary skills.

In November last year, Cronjager suggested setting up a collective PayPal account to buy weapons and other items for the group.

The court was told that he said he wanted to arm the group, but give them a few months before launching an attack to “get over the stress of being illegal and being unable to go back from that point”.

In further messages to the undercover officer on 13 December, he and Cronjager discussed arranging a drop-off location for 3D printed guns, the court heard, and of the supplier needing more money to pay for materials.

On the same day, Cronjager formulated his plot to kill his former friend after he boasted to him of sleeping with three white women.

When asked if his former friend had raped the girls, he allegedly replied: “Nope, but it’s a violation of nature.

“We’re not supposed to mix race - it’s not rape by legal definition but it’s kind of like rape if that makes sense. Violation at least.”

On his arrest at his Essex home on 29 December 2020, police seized a large amount of material demonstrating his commitment to an “extreme right-wing cause”, jurors heard.

He attempted to explain his behaviour by claiming to police he was a member of anti-fascist organisation Antifa, that had infiltrated various right-wing groups to disrupt and undermine them.

But giving evidence, he accepted he had held extreme far-right views, saying he now felt “ashamed and disgusted” by them.

The defendant, whose hobbies included computer gaming, karate, football and cricket, described his teenage years as lonely, isolated, quite depressed and anxious, with his negative feelings starting around the age of 16.

Mr Forte said that Cronjager had created for himself a “superhero fantasy” like a Call Of Duty avatar, but it was all “make believe”.

The jury was told that the defendant was on the autism disorder spectrum, with a mild level of severity, and had a high IQ.