A Covid conspiracy theorist from Leicestershire has been jailed for six and a half years after planning to attack phone, radio and TV masts, and damage the road network, as part of a plan to bring down the Government.
Oliver Lewin, 38, from Coalville planned to commit the attacks over a number of months, and tried to recruit others to help out, Birmingham Crown Court heard.
His motive appears to have been a mistrust of authority.
The 38-year-old, of Ferrers Road, Coalville, Leicestershire, was convicted last month of a single charge of preparing terrorist acts, despite claiming his comments to undercover security operatives were part of a fantasy.
Passing sentence at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday 20 Jauary, Judge Paul Farrer said: "You believed in the existence of a Covid conspiracy controlled by Jews. In the course of your messages, you expressed hostility towards Jewish people.
"You also sought to recruit four of your friends to assist you in circumstances where they were ignorant of your terrorist agenda and some of them were vulnerable."
Lewin, who has no previous convictions and has already spent 507 days on remand, was told he will have to serve two-thirds of his sentence before parole can be considered.
"You are undoubtedly a complicated character with significant autistic traits. At the time of the indictment, you were socially isolated, depressed and lacking in self-worth. These features led you into telling many lies about the extent of your terrorist activities", Judge Farrer said.
He added: “At the time of the indictment, you were socially isolated, depressed and lacking in self-worth. These features led you into telling many lies about the extent of your terrorist activities.
“Your objective was to influence the Government, although in reality the prospects of you successfully doing so were remote in the extreme.
“In light of all of the evidence, I conclude that at the time of your arrest your plans were far from complete, and your intended terrorist action was not imminent.
“Your autism impacted upon your ability to make rational choices and exercise appropriate judgment. For these reasons, I am satisfied that your responsibility is substantially reduced by your mental disorder.”
Lewin claimed he was ex-military, though he previously worked as an AV engineer installing and maintaining radio masts.
He carried out extensive research online to try to identify weaknesses of the masts, and in person he visited locations for reconnaissance missions in in his local area. He also spent a lot of time writing a manual to train others.
In August 2021, Lewin built a hideout so he could avoid a police helicopter, and he planned to damage a culvert which disrupted water flow underneath the M1 motorway.
He also trained himself to walk in the dark, and how to avoid travelling by road at night.
Lewin was detained in late August 2021 after describing himself as being on a “war footing” against the UK Government.
Following that arrest, police seized a large number of tools, army surplus gear, and weapon accessories to go with the three air rifles he owned. They gathered two air rifles and pellets, a pistol, a BB gun, a walkie talkie, binoculars and a packed rucksack ready for an overnight camp.
Police said Lewin made searches related to a number of masts in Leicestershire and Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands.
He told undercover officers that Sutton Coldfield was an “exceptionally high value target”, suggesting “fire-bombing” sheds there.
Prior to sentencing, defence barrister Andrew Hall KC said Lewin had lied and exaggerated in his dealings with the undercover officers as his “personal obsessions simply overwhelmed him.”
Mr Hall added that Lewin had been immersed in a “sinister world of Covid conspiracy” after being “dragged down a rabbit hole” while online.
Lewin had the capacity and knowledge to have interfered with communications infrastructure, his lawyer said, but had not caused any damage.
The defence lawyer told the court: “He is plainly skilled and highly intelligent in some ways. He had not put a foot wrong before the Covid lockdowns.”
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