A police commander has appealed to the public to help spot the signs of radicalisation ahead of the sentencing of a promising teenager who encouraged right-wing terrorism.
Harry Vaughan, 18, of south-west London, will be sentenced at the Old Bailey later for 14 terrorism offences and two child abuse image offences, the Metropolitan Police said.
The head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command said the case shows that any young person can be susceptible to radicalisation.
Detectives arrested Vaughan on June 19 2019 after a national counter-terrorism operation identified that he was one of a number of people posting messages on an extremist website.
Digital forensic specialists retrieved 4,200 images and 302 files, including an extreme right-wing terrorist book and documents relating to Satanism, Neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism, from Vaughan’s devices.
Police said incriminating files included graphics encouraging acts of terrorism in the name of the proscribed organisation Sonnenkrieg Division, a guide to killing people, and bomb-making manuals.
Detectives also identified that Vaughan had downloaded and watched two child abuse videos, classified category A – the most serious type.
Commander Richard Smith said: “Harry Vaughan is an intelligent young man who was predicted A-star grades and aspiring to study computing at university.
“Yet, online, he was an enthusiastic participant of right-wing terrorist forums.
“He made and published vitriolic graphics encouraging terrorism and signposted people to violent terrorist guidebooks online.
“His case illustrates it is possible for any young person to be susceptible to radicalisation, so today I really want to appeal to everyone to be as vigilant as possible for signs that a young loved one may be in trouble.
“If you have any concerns at all, act decisively – talk to the police before it’s too late.
“We have officers who are specially trained and ready to help people who are becoming radicalised choose a better life for themselves.”
Mr Smith said people who are being radicalised may not know what is happening.
“If you are the person being radicalised, you may not realise it. You may be feeling confused, angry and alone.
“There may be a niggling voice in the back of your head questioning what you are doing.
“If this sounds like you, please reach out – we can help you as we have many people before you,” he said.
Police said Vaughan entered guilty pleas at Westminster Youth Court on September 2.
The Met said he pleaded guilty to one count of encouragement of terrorism, one count of disseminating a terrorist publication, 12 counts of possessing a document containing information of a kind likely to be of use to a person preparing or committing an act of terrorism, and two counts of making an indecent photograph of a child.
Mr Smith said: “Vaughan sought to spread his poisonous views, to encourage others to commit acts of terrorism and to provide like-minded people with the information they need to kill people.
“Vaughan’s actions have not gone undetected and counter-terrorism police have ensured that he – like many before him – face justice.
“Please, if you are worried about yourself or someone else, let us know. Let us help before it’s too late.”