Man Accused of Planning Massacre ‘Rejected Offer To Address Far Right Views’
A white supremacist accused of planning a massacre in his home town rejected an offer from counter-terrorism officials to address his far-right views nine months before his arrest, a court has heard.
Shane Fletcher, 21, is said to have wanted to achieve notoriety in emulating the Columbine High School shooters by committing a murderous mass attack in Workington last year.
He is alleged to have regarded Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold as “legends” and allegedly targeted the town’s traditional Uppies and Downies event – where large numbers of participants and spectators gather every Easter for three football matches played in the streets throughout the night.
Fletcher’s probation officer told Manchester Crown Court he alerted the authorities in March 2018 after the defendant told him the only thing stopping him committing a mass killing was a lack of cash and resources.
Lee Cartner said he held weekly meetings with Fletcher from April 2017 after his release on licence from custody.
Asked by prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford what his first impressions were of the defendant, Mr Cartner said: “He presented as very disillusioned and he was quite flat in mood.
“He came across that he was probably quite isolated and probably not very invested in the community. I would describe him as a loner.”
But Mr Cartner said Fletcher was keen to get a job and address his alcohol problems.
In subsequent meetings, he openly identified as being racist and Mr Cartner noted that Fletcher was “a risk to minorities, particularly Muslim” after Fletcher told him he had dreamt of shooting at a mosque.
The probation officer would challenge his views but Fletcher remained “insistent” and later that led to a referral to the Government’s Prevent counter-terror programme.
Talks were held about the possibility of Fletcher meeting with former members of EDL or Combat 18, but Mr Cartner said the defendant was “very clear” he did not want to do that.
Mr Cartner said: “He described any such former members as being race traitors.”
It was made clear to Fletcher he would continue to be monitored and the offer by Prevent to engage with him remained open, the probation officer said.
Mr Cartner said his concerns increased from December, when Fletcher would speak about Columbine and the Hungerford massacres, but “typically he would clarify he would not do these things”.
He went on: “He was becoming more specific in terms of an intention to cause harm. I thought that these fixations of mass casualty events was starting to increase.
“He told me the only thing stopping him carrying out a mass killing was lack of finances and resources effectively, but he did say he knew people from Liverpool who could get guns for him and he did know to make a bomb from the internet.”
Mr Cartner agreed he gave a diary to Fletcher in July 2017 so he could track his job centre appointments and avoid benefits sanctions.
Mr Sandiford asked: “Did you ask him to write anything else down?”
Mr Cartner replied: “No.”
Mr Sandiford continued: “Or suggest he should do so?”
“No,” repeated Mr Cartner.
Following his arrest at his family home in Wastwater Avenue, Fletcher told police his probation officer had told him to write his thoughts and feelings in the diary as a “coping strategy”.
Among the diary entries were instructions on how to make a pipe bomb and napalm, the jury has heard.
The Crown say Fletcher tried to recruit his only friend, Kyle Dixon, to agree to join him in the alleged planned Uppies and Downies attack in April 2018.
Fletcher denies soliciting Mr Dixon to murder persons unknown and two counts of collecting or making a record of information useful for terrorism purposes, namely instructions on how to make a pipe bomb and how to make napalm or an improvised version of napalm.