Jail for neo-Nazi coronavirus conspiracist who spread hoax theories online and in Cambridgeshire

Matthew Henegan was handed an extended sentence

A neo-Nazi coronavirus conspiracist who spread anti-Semitic hoax theories has been given an extended jail sentence of more than 12 years.

Matthew Henegan, 37, stirred up racial hatred on the internet and in leaflets posted to residents of St Neots, Cambridgeshire, where he was living at the start of the Covid-19 crisis in March 2020.

He refused to attend the hearing at Winchester Crown Court where Judge Nigel Lickley QC said: "You created racist material designed to be inflammatory, to cause upset and incite racial hatred of the Jewish faith.

"In the context of the pandemic enveloping the world, you distributed material designed to incite racial hatred."

Henegan had previously undergone a mental health assessment after he shot himself with a gun, and he was found to be "dangerous, cunning, manipulative and devious".

Henegen was sentenced to eight years and one month in prison with an extended licence period of four years, and made subject to a counter-terrorism notification order for 30 years.

Henegan's trial at the Old Bailey heard that he repeatedly used a "grossly offensive" term for Jewish people and falsely claimed they controlled the news about coronavirus.

The material came to the attention of Cambridgeshire Police last year after residents reported receiving "offensive and anti-Semitic" leaflets through their letterboxes.

They included links to a website with racially inflammatory video and audio files posted by Henegan, who was ordered by a judge to remove a swastika armband at a previous hearing.

In a search of Henegan's home, police seized a large number of leaflets, a home-made swastika and a swastika armband.

Claims included that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was Jewish and an attempt had been made to pass him off as English, the jury was told.

Henegan, from St Neots, was convicted of possessing, distributing and publishing documents inciting racial hatred and possessing a terrorist document.

He was also convicted of possessing a document about how to make armour-piercing ammunition that was likely to be useful to a terrorist.

The unemployed defendant, who lived with his mother, told jurors he was interested in historical research, particularly Germany's role in the Second World War.

He rejected the "commonly held view" that Hitler began the war, and also that six million Jewish people died at the hands of German authorities.

The court heard that Henegan had previous convictions for inciting a child under the age of 16 to partake in sexual activity, as well as receiving a caution in 2021 for possession of MDMA, and reprimands in 2001 for assault and possession of an offensive weapon.