White supremacist Ben John told to read books by Judge who spared him jail imprisoned upon appeal

ben john

A young Nazi sympathiser who was told to read classic literature by a judge after being convicted of a terrorism offence has been jailed on appeal.

Ben John, then aged 21, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence at Leicester Crown Court last August.

He had been found guilty of possessing a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Police described him as a white supremacist with a neo-Nazi ideology, who had amassed over 67,000 documents espousing white supremacist and antisemitic material downloaded onto hard drives.

John was invited by a judge to read famous works, including Pride And Prejudice and A Tale Of Two Cities.

The former De Montfort University student was ordered to return to court every four months to be tested on his reading by the judge after avoiding jail "by the skin of his teeth".

Ben John was a former student at the De Montfort University in Leicester Credit: BPM

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) referred his sentence to the Court of Appeal under the unduly lenient sentencing scheme and it was considered by judges on Wednesday.

After a two and a half-hour hearing on Wednesday morning, three senior judges quashed his original sentence and replaced it with a sentence of two years in prison and a third year on licence.

The court heard John had been “liking” Nazi-themed content “just five days after promising the judge he had put it behind him”, Solicitor General Alex Chalk QC said.

Mr Chalk argued that, while the sentence was intended to allow for “potent control” over John’s rehabilitation, this idea in the circumstances was “manifestly false”.

The sentencing caused a public backlash at the time, with social media users describing the ruling as an example of "white privilege."

Other users questioned if a defendant from a non-white ethnic background would have been treated in the same way.

John was charged under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment.

The charge was brought following the discovery of a publication containing diagrams and instructions on how to construct explosives on a computer.

Lincolnshire Police found a copy of the ‘Anarchy Cookbook’, a book containing instructions for the manufacture of explosives and rudimentary weapons.