Midlands far-right extremist was making “submachine gun for religious war”
A far-right extremist from Leamington Spa was caught making a “submachine gun and ammunition” and collecting terrorism material, say police.
During the trial at Birmingham Crown Court the jury heard how Ben Styles, 25, was inspired by the Islamophobic Christchurch terrorist and making weapons in his garage with the aim of starting “a religious war”.
Styles had acquired various tools including a lathe and a drill press and was making a gun when Counter Terrorism officers from the West Midlands arrested him and searched his home in Plymouth Place on 12 April 2021.
Prosecutor Matthew Brooks detailed how Styles had travelled to New Zealand shortly before the Christchurch terror attack in 2019. The massacre of 51 Muslim worshippers shot to death by a far-right terrorist sent shockwaves around the world.
Styles reportedly became fascinated by the Christchurch terrorist and collected his manifesto and a video of the notorious massacre according to police.
Mr Brooks said Styles wrote a manifesto in which he stated that he was on a “mission” and “being in a religious war against the Jews and other targets of extreme right-wing terrorists”.
Alarmingly, Styles – who holds an engineering qualification from Warwickshire College – posted deplorable comments on an online anti-Jewish group where he called the holocaust as a “holohoax” and added “I hope the holocaust is real next time”.
Some of the material found in the extremist’s possession included a Nazi fitness manual, a book entitled “The SS family yearly – celebrations of the SS family” and information about how to convert blank bullets into live ammunition. Prosecutors allege that Styles mobile phone lock screen had swastikas on it.
Detective Superintendent Anastasia Miller, from West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, said: “Styles’ was making a submachine gun and ammunition, he also knowingly downloaded and possessed extremely distressing and disturbing imagery.
“We will continue to protect local communities by working with partners and the CPS to pursue and prosecute all those who show support for terrorism.
“We work tirelessly to counter terrorism. Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety and security of the people who live, work and visit the West Midlands area.”
Assistant Chief Constable David Gardner, Counter Terrorism lead for Warwickshire Police, said: “The evidence in this case was extremely concerning and clearly demonstrated Styles has an obsession with far right wing ideologies.
“It is vital we all remain vigilant and people report any concerns they have to police.”
At an earlier legal hearing in November 2021, Styles admitted three counts of collecting information contrary to section 58 Terrorism Act 2006 (right wing material and instructional firearms documents) and one count of possessing a prohibited weapon contrary to section 5(1a) Firearms Act 1968.
Styles denied he was preparing an act of terrorism and was acquitted of engaging in conduct in preparation for a terrorist act, contrary to section 5(1) of the Terrorism Act 2006 at Birmingham Crown Court.
He will be back in court on Friday 23 June to receive his sentence.