A former college student who plotted to blow up a police station to spark a race war has been jailed for four years.

Luke Skelton, who was referred to the Prevent anti-terror programme due to his extreme right-wing views, was 18 when he carried out “hostile reconnaissance” of a station he considered targeting.

Following a trial at Teesside Crown Court, the former Gateshead College student, now 20, was found guilty of preparing to carry out a terrorist attack.

On Tuesday, Judge Paul Watson KC, the Recorder of Middlebrough, jailed Skelton for four years with an extended licence period of one year.

Jurors were told the defendant – who was said to have racist, sexist, homophobic, antisemitic and Islamophobic views – travelled over 10 miles from his home in Oxclose, Washington, in September 2021 to take photos of Forth Banks police station in Newcastle city centre.


He also wrote a manifesto and “final note” in which he spoke of accelerating a “racial war”, the court heard.

Skelton researched ways of building explosives and downloaded material about making napalm, dynamite and Molotov cocktails, the judge said.

Between October 2020 and October 2021, Skelton was “engaged in a course of conduct based on extreme right-wing views” and wanted to “bring about civil disturbance by terrorist means”, the judge said.

He told the defendant: “Your internet activity shows you were a committed and active right-wing extremist dedicated to white supremacy.

“You made heroes of those who carried out atrocities in the name of fascism.”

Anti-terror officers first arrested Skelton in June 2021, leading him to change his username for an online group to “Adolf Hitler” – “so the police don’t suspect me”, he told Discord users. He was told the next month that he would face no further action.


By the time Skelton carried out his reconnaissance mission in Newcastle, he was “completely caught up in terrorist ideology and methods”, the judge said.

He said the defendant intended to deploy explosives in a busy area but added: “The reality is that you had not the intellectual, financial or technical wherewithal to have been able to construct an explosive device capable of creating even modest injury.”

Crispin Aylett KC, mitigating, said Skelton “never actually did any more than take a couple of photos” which suggested he “lost interest or simply changed his mind”.

Mr Aylett said the defendant’s responsibility was “substantially reduced” by his autism, adding: “People with autism feel marginalised and are more prone to being radicalised. Some – and Luke Skelton was one of them – want to lash out.”

He told the court the offences took place against the background of Covid and that the consequences of the pandemic were “catastrophic” for young people.