Connor Burke, a 19-year-old student from Bexleyheath in the UK, has been jailed for three-and-a-half years for disseminating bomb-making manuals disguised as Minecraft video game guides through a Telegram chat group.
The teenager was also found to possess a collection of Nazi memorabilia, including an SS dagger, uniform and ring, a copy of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’, as well as a collection of racist propaganda on his computer, including a video about the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand.
Counterterrorism officers raided Burke’s home in Bexleyheath last year after he posted a 27-page bomb-making manual to a Telegram chat group centered around the popular video game ‘Minecraft’. Burke disguised the manual as a game guide, titling the document “Minecraft_Bow_Ammo_Types.pdf.”
Burke’s barrister, Naeem Mian QC, said the teenager’s “mortified” parents were present at Woolwich Crown Court for the sentencing hearing. They believed he “fell down a rabbit hole” during the prolonged coronavirus lockdown, he added.
Describing it as any parent’s worst nightmare, Mian explained the situation as a combination of isolation and “spending too much time on the internet in a room by himself.” He said Burke was a “young man who had disappeared down something one would term as a rabbit hole. A very dark rabbit hole which became something of an echo chamber.”
Mr. Mian added that Burke found a “sense of belonging” in far-right chatrooms and messaging apps where “what he had to say mattered.”
The judge overseeing Burke’s case noted that the teen had gotten himself “caught up in some very dangerous activity.” However, he believed he had a good chance of rehabilitation, citing a letter from a parent which called Burke a “loving, respectful and gentle young man” who they believed was motivated to “make an impression” with people he met online.
The 19-year-old pleaded guilty to disseminating a terrorist publication and four counts of possessing documents likely to be of use to persons intending to commit or prepare for acts of terrorism. He has been sentenced to 42 months in prison and an additional year on license.