Former British solider, 27, jailed for terror attack plot in Nottingham

William Howitt was stopped by counter terrorism officers at East Midlands Airport Credit: Nottinghamshire Police

A former British soldier has been jailed for four years and ten months after begin found guilty of preparing to commit a terrorist attack in Nottingham.

William Howitt, from West Bridgford in Nottinghamshire, wrote a detailed plan to commit an arson attack at an independent bookstore in Nottingham.

He denied the offence, but was found guilty following a three-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court on 16 November 2023.

The 27-year-old’s phone was seized when he was stopped by Counter-Terrorism officers at East Midlands Airport on 5 January 2023.

Officers found ‘Plan A’, detailing an attack on the city centre bookshop.

Also on the device were a number of anti-Semitic, anti-Marxist and pro-Nazi messages, pictures and videos, which Howitt had started sending to friends from 2020.

‘Plan A’ was written on the notes app on his phone, and was created during the evening of 7 September 2020 and remained there.

Howitt claimed he was drunk and under the influence of drugs when he wrote it, and that the messages he sent were to create a persona and for bravado, and not a true representation of his views.

He was arrested on 14 March this year and charged with preparing an act of terrorism .

The bookstore was identified as a target by Howitt, as a reflection of his strongly opposing views – namely left-of-centre political and social issues, such as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.

Using his former military knowledge and training, his plan set out the steps he would take in order to set fire to the location, and then escape.

In the hours around the writing of the plan, Howitt went online and purchased the tools outlined he would need.

A glass hammer and tarpaulin sheet were found at his address when officers from Counter Terrorism Policing East Midlands (CTPEM) searched the property.

Following the trial, on Friday 24 November at Nottingham Crown Court, Howitt also pleaded guilty to a series of acts to pervert the course of justice, having convinced a friend to take driving licence points for a speeding offence.

For this, he was sentenced to four months which will run consecutively to the four years six months he was sentenced to for the terrorism offences.

Howitt will also be subject to 12 months on licence on his release, as well as a 15-year notification order, under Part 4 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.

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