A convicted neo-Nazi has had his four-year sentence slashed by the Court of Appeal, after judges branded his original sentence “manifestly excessive”.
Lawrence Burns was sentenced to four years in prison in March by a judge at Peterborough Crown Court after being convicted of two counts of incitement to racial hatred over his antisemitic Facebook posts and a speech on YouTube last year. In December 2016, Mr Burns was also found guilty of two charges of publishing threatening, abusive or insulting written material with intent or likely intent to stir up racial hatred by a jury at Cambridge Crown Court.
In one video, Mr Burns accused Jews of being “parasites” that wanted to create a “mongrelised race”. In one of his many social media posts, Burns compared Jews to “maggots in a decaying body” who are “hijacking the genes of a superior white race”. The court heard that Mr Burns had posted 140 comments comments in which he stirred up racial hatred on an alias Facebook account he had set up.
According to one report, a search of Mr Burns’ home revealed a number of antisemitic books, a scarf with a “neo-Nazi” logo and a phone containing a further 125 photos depicting racist views, along with three audio recordings made by Mr Burns, where he is alleged to have said a “real Holocaust” is the only solution to “ridding the Jews”.
Mr Justice Phillips, sitting with Lord Justice Davis and Mr Justice Garnham, said Mr Burns’ utterances had strayed “far beyond what is regarded as acceptable in this society” and were intended to “promote racial hatred”, but that Mr Burns’ four-year sentence was “manifestly excessive”.
The judges slashed Mr Burns’ sentence to two-and-a-half years on account of the fact that he was only 20 and 21 when he committed the offences, and because he was of “low intellect”, stating that they made the decision due to his “young age” and “poor educational background”.
Mr Burns’ lawyer, Adrian Davies, also told the court that Mr Burns’ 98 Facebook friends had much more extreme views than Mr Burns, and that should be taken into account, because their views were so extreme that they made Mr Burns “seem moderate”.
Mr Burns was disappointed in his ambition to completely overturn his conviction.
Campaign Against Antisemitism deplores the message sent by the court, that a dedicated adult neo-Nazi who embraced a genocidal ideology should be granted clemency. Mr Burns was not a child. He wilfully and prolifically engaged in the most vile incitement to commit acts of violence against Jews and black people.
You may wish to write to your MP using the simple form at writetothem.com, asking them to draw your concerns to the attention of the Attorney General, The Rt Hon. Jeremy Wright QC MP, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, The Rt Hon. David Lidington MP, and the President of the Sentencing Council, The Rt Hon. Lord Thomas, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.