HMA v Peter Morgan

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 16 August 2018, Lord Boyd of Duncansby imposed an extended sentence of 15 years on Peter Morgan after the accused was found guilty of preparing acts of terrorism. The custodial period will be 12 years, which will be followed by an extension period of three years on licence.

On sentencing, Lord Boyd made the following statement in court:

“Peter Morgan, you have been convicted of two charges under the Terrorism Act and one charge under the Explosive Substances Act 1883. These charges threaten the safety of the public, our values as a democracy and strike at the dignity and respect which all members of our community are entitled to expect whatever their race or religion.

“You assert your right to freedom of speech. However abhorrent some may find your views, you are entitled to hold them.

“What you are not entitled to do is to act on these views for the purpose of committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

“Over a period of five years you amassed a collection of neo-Nazi, anti-Muslim, anti-semitic and racist material.

“You downloaded documents from the internet including guides relating to the operation of explosive devices and the manufacture of explosive substances.

“Of most concern is that you not only possessed the ingredients for the making of an improvised explosive device but you had begun to assemble it.

“You took a vinegar bottle and fixed to the outside of it approximately 80 ball bearings and metal propellant cartridges. It is clear that your intention was to increase the lethal nature of the device.

“The bomb disposal expert described the injuries that might be sustained if one was exploded within three to five metres of a person as ‘horrific’.

“The jury clearly rejected your explanation that you merely intended to blow up a turkey and film it for Youtube.

“I have listened carefully to all that has been said on your behalf. I accept that the jury acquitted you of charge 3. I accept too that there did not appear to be any identified target.

“You have a long record mostly for crimes of dishonesty and offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but I accept that you have largely stayed out of trouble since 2010.

“This is the first conviction for any offence which might infer violence, let alone terrorism. I take all these matters into account.

“Despite your counsel’s submission, I see no reason not to have regard to the guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council of England and Wales in April 2018.

“In passing sentence I am conscious of the need to deter others who may be tempted to embark on such activity. I also require to consider the safety of the public.

“It is difficult to assess the risk that you might pose on your release from prison but I note that you do not accept your guilt beyond the plea that you offered which was rejected by the Crown.

“While you told the social worker that you would never again collect such material you do not disavow your political views. Accordingly, I am satisfied that the criteria for an extended sentence are met.

“The sentence of the court is as follows: on charge 1 you will go to prison for eight years; on charge 2, you will go to prison for three years; on charge 4, I shall impose an extended sentence 15 years, of which the custodial part shall be 12 years with an extension of three years.

“These sentences shall be served concurrently and backdated to 6 July 2017.”