April 24, 2023 Faith Matters

Two conspiracy theorists accused of plotting to destroy 5G masts

Two anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists plotted to destroy 5G masts and called for MPs to be hanged, prosecutors have told a jury.

Darren Reynolds, 60, and Christine Grayson, 59, discussed armed uprisings and advocated violence towards people they called “traitors” on social media, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Reynolds “went further” and posted extreme right-wing, antisemitic and racist views, jurors were told.

Both defendants are charged with encouraging terrorism and conspiracy to cause criminal damage.

Reynolds is also accused of disseminating terrorist publications and possessing documents containing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Opening the case to jurors on Monday, prosecutor Tom Storey said the defendants knew each other through the social media platform Telegram, which both were regular users of between 2020 and 2022.

Mr Storey said the pair subscribed to an anti-authoritarian ideology which involved conspiracy theories, including the view that 5G mobile phone masts were linked to the Covid-19 vaccine.

“As a result of these beliefs, they overtly discussed the potential destruction of 5G masts, both in principle and by reference to specific masts which they felt should be targeted,” he told the court.

Prosecutors say the defendants’ views “crossed the line” from expressing opinions, to “overtly advocating the use of violence towards those whom they regarded as traitors”.

“The defendants’ talk of the need to arm oneself and to engage in a fight against the enemy would appear to have been backed up by the fact that both were found to be in possession of weapons,” Mr Storey said.

When police searched their addresses they found a crossbow and a number of crossbow bolts at Grayson’s home, while at Reynolds’ they discovered two replica assault rifles.

The police also found copies of documents about how to use assault rifles or manufacture explosive devices on some of Reynolds’ electronic devices.

The court heard both defendants were strongly opposed to the rollout of the 5G network, and regarded 5G masts as pieces of “enemy infrastructure which they were entitled to disable or destroy”.

Jurors were told that among the references to destroying the masts was one on July 29 2021, when Reynolds told another Telegram user: “Solution: burn the f***ers down, they’re mostly in highly populated areas, so getting to them is no biggy.”

Grayson said she needed a “sabotage team” to “get rid of these 5G bloody near me” in a Telegram exchange on August 7 2021.

Jurors were told the defendants openly discussed the use of violence against those who they labelled “traitors”, particularly Members of Parliament.

On June 29 2021, Reynolds posted: “Storm parliament and the Lords, drag them all outside and hang them all on the spot for treason, sedition insurgency, attempted genocide and crimes against the peoples of Great Britain,” the court heard.

A month later, he posted: “How long are we going to wait before we take these f***ers down? I cannot wait to see these creatures hang, every single one of the 650 or so MP’s must be brought to book and hanged!!!”

Reynolds described murdered MP David Ames as a “traitor” and reacted with approval to another user’s view that Thomas Mair had “rightly executed the murdered MP Jo Cox because of her alleged treason”.

The court heard on June 28 2022, Grayson posted: “I saw 2 and a half million people in London we only need a few thousand a few hundred to get the mps in their own offices,” later saying: “It’s still lawful to hang for treason.”

Mr Storey said the “terrorist publications” Reynolds is accused of sharing included a manifesto written by Anders Breivik – who was responsible for murdering some 70 young people at a summer camp in Norway in 2011.

The documents found on his computer which were allegedly likely to be useful to a person committing an act of terrorism included a manual on how to build a .50 Browning calibre single shot rifle, and a document called How to Become an Assassin.

The court heard that in one police interview, Reynolds asked officers: “Do I look like a terrorist to you?” He then said that terrorists were “usually Arabs, or Irish from the 70s”.

The court heard Grayson denied having any intention to criminally damage 5G masts, telling police any comments she may have made to that effect were made in jest.

Mr Storey said Reynolds subscribed to the view that he is not bound by the laws of England and Wales, and feels that all communication he has had is “lawful, given his right to freedom of speech”.

Grayson, of Boothwood Road, York, and Reynolds, of Newbould Crescent, Sheffield, deny all charges.

The trial continues.