British neo-Nazi Covid conspiracist given extended jail sentence

Matthew Henegan is accused of stirring up racial hatred in leaflets and on the internet

Matthew Henegan, who has been convicted of possessing, distributing and publishing documents inciting racial hatred, and possessing a terrorist document. PA

A “dangerous loner” neo-Nazi and coronavirus conspiracist who spread anti-Semitic hoax theories has been given an extended jail sentence of more than 12 years.

Matthew Henegan, 37, stirred up racial hatred on the internet and in leaflets posted to residents of St Neots, Cambridgeshire, where he was living at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

In sentencing Henegan, who refused to attend the hearing at Winchester Crown Court, Judge Nigel Lickley said: “You created racist material designed to be inflammatory, to cause upset and incite racial hatred of the Jewish faith.

“In the context of the pandemic enveloping the world, you distributed material designed to incite racial hatred."

Mr Lickley said Henegan had previously undergone a mental health assessment after he shot himself with a gun, and he was found to be “dangerous, cunning, manipulative and devious”.

A pre-sentence report found that he was a “loner, potential threat to society and potentially a very dangerous man”.

Henegen was sentenced to eight years and one month in prison, with an extended licence period of four years, and made subject to a counter-terrorism notification order for 30 years.

Prosecutor Julia Faure Walker said Henegan had “terrorist motivations” and "on his own admission, he was doing this with a view to stir up extreme emotion in people".

Henegan’s trial at the Old Bailey heard that he repeatedly used a “grossly offensive” term for Jewish people and falsely claimed that they controlled the news about the coronavirus.

The material came to the attention of Cambridgeshire Police in mid-March last year after residents reported receiving “offensive and anti-Semitic” leaflets in their letterboxes.

The Central Criminal Court, commonly known as the Old Bailey, in London. AP

They included links to racially inflammatory video and audio files posted on a website by Henegan, who was ordered by a judge to remove a swastika armband at a previous hearing.

In a search of his home, police seized a large number of leaflets, a home-made swastika and a swastika armband.

A document entitled Coronavirus Hoax Supplement was posted online on March 9, 2020, and viewed 95 times.

Material referred to anti-Semitic themes and admiration for Adolf Hitler, the court was told.

Two days later, another document appeared online, suggesting that the terror attack at Fishmongers’ Hall on London Bridge, in which two innocent people were killed, was “set up” by a propaganda machine.

Claims included that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was Jewish and an attempt had been made to pass him off as English, the jury was told.

The author of the document referred to himself as a National Socialist, the court heard.

On March 13 2020, a three-hour video entitled Corona Virus Hoax was posted on the same website.

In it, Henegan talked into the camera and encouraged people to defy any Covid-19 curfew.

Henegan, from St Neots, was convicted of possessing, distributing and publishing documents inciting racial hatred and possessing a terrorist document.

He was also convicted of possessing a document about how to make armour-piercing ammunition that was likely to be useful to a terrorist.

Giving evidence, Henegan, who has Asperger’s syndrome, said it was not his intention to stir up racial hatred.

The unemployed defendant, who lived with his mother, told jurors he was interested in historical research, particularly Germany’s role in the Second World War.

He rejected the “commonly held view” that Hitler began the war, and also that six million Jewish people died at the hands of the Nazis.

“This was during a particularly sensitive social climate. They are his truly held beliefs and he had increased anxiety of his own,” said his lawyer, Simon Ray.

The court heard that Henegan had previous convictions for inciting a child under the age of 16 to partake in sexual activity, and received a caution in 2021 for possession of MDMA, and reprimands in 2001 for assault and possession of an offensive weapon.

Updated: March 02, 2022, 10:59 PM