Teenage right-wing extremist from Haworth jailed over plot to kill Muslims

Joe Metcalfe
Joe Metcalfe stole his father's car to carry out reconnaisance, but crashed it. Credit: Counter-Terrorism Policing North East

A boy who plotted to disguise himself as an armed police officer and kill Muslims worshipping at mosques has been jailed for terror offences.

A judge at Leeds Crown Court lifted a ban on naming 17-year-old Joe Metcalfe, from Haworth, near Keighley, West Yorkshire, because of the seriousness of the offences.

Metcalfe had researched the mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019 and Buffalo, United States, in 2022 in preparation for his attack.

Aged 15 at the time, he stole his father's car to scout out a mosque before crashing it into a fence.

During the journey he filmed himself on his phone and had Serbian folk music playing in the background, in a deliberate recreation of the Christchurch mosque attacks, Leeds Crown Court heard.

During his trial, the jury was shown a picture Metcalfe had drawn in a "manifesto" of a stick man surrounded by Nazi symbols and names of notorious terrorists.

Weapons Joe Metcalfe planned to use. Credit: Counter-Terrorism Policing North East

He planned to conduct his attack in the summer of 2022.

The judge, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, told Metcalfe: “You failed to persuade the jury this was all just make believe, a fantasy.

“They were sure you intended to attack a mosque and kill people worshipping there.”

Metcalfe was jailed for 10 years, with an extended licence period of six years, after being found guilty after trial of preparing an act of terrorism.

He had pleaded guilty to encouraging others to commit terrorism, disseminating terrorist publications, and possessing a bladed article.He was also jailed after being convicted at a separate trial of multiple rape offences and coercive control of a teenage girl. 

The judge said Metcalfe recently told a probation officer preparing a pre-sentence report that he had converted to Islam.

He told them: "I’m really sorry about what I have done, I’m no longer a threat to anyone. I’m Muslim," the court heard.

The judge said the unit where Metcalfe is currently being housed raised a number of concerns about his "inappropriate" behaviour, including "inciting other patients on the ward to cause harm to a doctor".

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said: “Although everyone has the potential to change I am not convinced there is any yet.”

The court heard he is on medication for psychosis but does not have a mental disorder which requires hospital treatment.Nick Price, head of the Crown Prosecution Service's special crime and counter terrorism division, said: "Although Joe Metcalfe spent time watching and sharing violent, racist, homophobic and antisemitic videos, these were not idle fantasies.

"He made a detailed plan to murder Muslims at a nearby mosque while disguised as an armed police officer, record the killings and escape.  "He stole his father’s car to carry out a reconnaissance mission, contacted a gun seller to try and secretly ship a weapon to the UK, and but for apprehension intended to carry out the attack.

“Despite his young age his beliefs and willingness to take violent action to propagate them are a threat to our society, and it is right that he has been sentenced today for those crimes."

Det Ch Supt James Dunkerley, head of Counter Terrorism Policing North- East, said: “We are satisfied that this individual acted in isolation and our quick response prevented this escalating further.

"I hope this provides yet another example of how robustly we will deal with this type of behaviour and these actions. It will not be tolerated."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.