Racist gang get 25 years: National Front youth organiser sent down

The National Front youth organiser, Simon Northfield, was jailed last month after police foiled a plot by a racist gang to attack and maim a black man. Members of the eight-strong group of NF and Combat 18 supporters received a total of 25 years' imprisonment between them.

Seven of the gang were caught sitting in a white van with tinted windows with an assortment of weapons including an imitation gun, CS gas canisters, an axe, a knuckleduster and plastic handcuffs. All eight later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racially aggravated assault and were given sentences ranging from 18 months to over four years at Kingston Crown Court. Police searches of the racists' London homes led to the discovery of more weapons and NF and other nazi literature. Evidence was also found that linked members of the gang to Combat 18.

When police raided Northfield's home in Wallington, south London, they found pictures of him in Nazi uniform and in a Ku Klux Klan costume brandishing a knife. Northfield, 23, is no stranger to Searchlight readers. In February 2000 he admitted attacking supporters of the Anti Nazi League and shouting racist abuse while he was on an NF rally in Margate. A raid on another gang member's address yielded 33 knives, a sword, a knuckleduster and racist material.

The gang were caught by police in a car park at Tooting Bec lido, south London, at 9pm on 29 September 2001. Inside the van were numerous items that formed a "kidnap kit". They included eight balaclavas, two extendable batons, surgical face masks, screwdrivers and two craft-knife blades taped together so that when the racists cut their victim the wounds would be difficult to stitch. Police believe that the gang were about to carry out an attack on a randomly selected Afro-Caribbean as a revenge for an earlier fight with a group of Somalis.

One of the gang members, who cannot be named for legal reasons as he is only 17, approached his friend Paul Lewis, 19, and asked for help after he had apparently been involved in a fracas with two Somalis. The court heard how Lewis arranged for the armed gang to meet up.

The longest sentence was dished out to Northfield, who was jailed for four years and four months. Lewis, a hospital porter, was jailed for three years. Paul Connell, 21, was jailed for three years and nine months. It transpired that Connell, like many on the racist right, was a misfit. As a teenager he had been bullied and was lonely as he had no friends. He joined the NF thugs so that he could be "one of the gang", the court was told.

James Kennett, 19, had a previous conviction for putting NF stickers on a shop window and car belonging to an Asian shopkeeper. He was jailed for three years and six months. When police searched his home they found racist pamphlets and magazines, including NF literature. Thomas Slade, 21, a window fitter, was jailed for three years and nine months. Paul White, 25, a kitchen fitter, was sentenced to three years and 10 months.

Two 17-year-olds were each jailed for 18 months. It transpired that it was one of the 17-year-olds who was the main supplier of the weapons. Sentencing the gang, Judge Anne Wakefield said: "The offence to which you have all pleaded guilty is so serious that in each case an immediate custodial sentence can be justified".

Searchlight Magazine, Dec 02

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