The Justice Secretary has taken the “exceptional” step of extending a young extremist’s sentence in a high-security jail because he poses such a risk to the public.
Robert Buckland has gone to court to keep the far right terrorist who became a muslim extremist while in jail behind bars for at least another two months.
The young man – who befriended Streatham knifeman Sudesh Amman while in prison – was not covered by the Government’s retrospective law increasing terrorists’ jail terms because he had been jailed for a fixed term, rather than under early release rules.
This meant Mr Buckland had to apply to the magistrates court to extend his fixed term and delay his release onto a community rehabilitation programme – a move the Government’s lawyers admitted was “exceptional” and “unusual.”
Rosemary Davidson, representing Mr Buckland, told Westminster Magistrates Court his release could risk a repeat of the London Bridge and Streatham attacks mounted by recently-released prisoners.
Prison officials said they received intelligence that the inmate known as X, poses a ‘high risk to the public’ if he were to be released as he believes in extremist Islamic ideology. There are also fears that he could have learned tricks from other prisoners to escape detection from the authorities.
Guards were concerned when he left his job inside to pray for his friend Sudesh Amman when he was shot dead after stabbing people in south London in February. It is said he appeared upset by the death and ‘did not believe him to be a bad person’.
Prison psychologists also fear he fits the profile of a terrorist, saying he has a ‘grandiosity bordering on narcissism’, and likely to carry out an attack if it would hold him in esteem with a peer group that holds his extreme views.
Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said rules surrounding release dates were ‘dated’ after not being updated since 2002.
She said: “I do not find myself bound by the guidance, this is an exceptional case. The guidance is not statutory. There is nothing in the act which prevents me from considering the risk to the public and the rehabilitation of X when considering the application.
. . . it seems to me that I should consider whether the order is necessary and proportionate in the particularly unusual circumstances in this case.
“X’s views have veered from one extreme to another, he has a deep seated psychological need to feel part of a group, there is the intelligence that he is a risk to the public and has been in contact with Sudesh Faraz (Amman).
“There is a very recent pattern of young men being released from custody committing terrorist offences before they are themselves killed. ‘I bear in mind the principal aims of the justice system which is to prevent offending. I also must bear in mind the welfare of X.
“Having considered the three factors relied on by the Secretary of State including the intelligence I order that X’s release date be postponed to 18th May 2020. I’ve made a decision. I expect it will be appealed now but that will be for the defence to consider. . . “