A man from the city of Lincoln has been given a choice by the judge between jail time or reading books and plays by Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens.
The now 21-year-old man came into the picture three years ago by a letter to the police. He wrote that he was a member of the” fascist underground ” and raged against gays and immigrants.
He was placed in a prevention program, but continued to download far-right documents. He also downloaded a manual for making bombs. The police arrested him in January, under the Terrorism Act.
The jury of the Leicester court found him guilty of possession of information that is believed to be used to prepare a terrorist act. The maximum sentence for that is 15 years.
This went too far in court. In his eyes it is a “rash act of a teenager”. He did not believe that the man really intended to harm anyone, but warned him that he was at great risk of being recruited by like-minded people who would like to take action.
After the man had promised that he would no longer delve into extreme right-wing documents, the judge asked: “Have you ever read Dickens? Austen? Start with Pride and Prejudice. And a Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Think of Hardy, think of Trollope.”The British media does not show why the judge felt that the man should read English literature.
The man chose literature. He has to come back in four months, the judge said. “On January 4th you will tell me what you have read. I’ll test you, and if I think you’re lying to me, it’s gonna be hard for you.”
He did get a suspended sentence of two years. At that time, he’s under probation. He also had to promise that he would no longer study extreme right material.