Luciana Berger .
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/EMMA BAUM)
LONDON – A 21-year-old Nazi sympathizer has received a four-week jail sentence for sending an anti-Semitic tweet to Jewish MP Luciana Berger, who represents Liverpool.
Garron Helm, who lives in Liverpool, sent the shadow health minister a photograph of herself with a Holocaust yellow star on her forehead, accompanied by the message, “You can always count on a Jew to show their true colors eventually.” The tweet included the hashtag “#HitlerWasRight.”
Police who searched his home discovered a hoard of Nazi memorabilia, including SS insignia, and a collection of items from an extremist right-wing group called National Action.
Helm – who pleaded guilty and told police he was profoundly apologetic – had described himself on the Internet as “The Noble Wolf,” but his defense lawyer, Mark Ellis, said Helm was an “immature” loner with a troubled past who found friends online in extremist groups. Ellis added that his client had been expelled from college earlier in the year.
Despite a handwritten letter of apology that Helm sent to Berger afterward, Liverpool Magistrate’s Court Judge Andrew Shaw said the items found in the defendant’s home showed his “true motivation.”
The judge added that his actions had been calculated and were “extremely abusive and upsetting.”
In sentencing him, Shaw said he would upgrade the charge from sending “an offensive, indecent or obscene message,” to a “racially motivated” act.
Berger was “deeply shocked by the entire incident and by the link to National Action, which she knows as an extremist group,” the court was told.
In a statement later, the MP said the court’s sentence sent “a clear message that hate crime is not tolerated in our country. I hope this serves as an encouragement to others to report hate crime wherever it rears its ugly head.”
Communities Minister Stephen Williams said the government welcomed the guilty verdict, which showed there was no place for purveyors of hate to hide.
“This ruling sends out a message to all those who use social media to send out anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, homophobic and racist comments that it is unacceptable and that we are serious about ensuring that those involved are arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he said.