Brian Sims

Former University of Cambridge student jailed for terrorism offence

A FORMER University of Cambridge student who was found with a document on how to prepare explosive devices has been jailed. Oliver Bel of Cherry Tree Close in Wilmslow was jailed for two years as a result of a hearing at Manchester Crown Court. Bel was found guilty of possession of documents or records likely to be useful to a person preparing – or committing – an act of terrorism contrary to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Bel first came to the attention of the police in early 2019 while he was a student at Cambridge University. Complaints relating to Bel’s online activity including social media posts expressing anti-Semitic and extreme right wing views were received by the police.

On 15 November 2019, a search warrant was executed at Bel’s address following a number of extreme right wing posts made by him appearing in a news article from ‘Hope not Hate’ (an advocacy group campaigning against racism).

During this search warrant, a number of media devices along with books were seized, including the ‘Anarchist Cookbook’. Assessment of this document showed that it contained numerous instructions on how to prepare viable explosive devices, as well as instructions on how to use knives to kill people.

Bel was subsequently arrested on 19 February 2020 by officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North West. During his police interview, Bel denied the allegations, but was later charged on 2 April 2020 with one count of possession of a document or record likely to be useful to a person preparing – or committing – an act of terrorism, contrary to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Two-year jail sentence

During his trial in April this year, Bel declined to give evidence, but was found guilty. As stated, he has now been jailed for two years with an additional year on licence.

Commenting on the case, Superintendent Will Chatterton of Counter Terrorism Policing North West said: “Although Bel pleaded not guilty to the charges, the evidence presented to the court by the investigations team resulted in him being jailed. I hope this shows the determination we have to eradicate this type of extremely dangerous terrorist activity.”

Chatterton added: “We’re committed to bringing anyone who poses a risk to our communities to justice. I would urge the public to report any concerns they have of suspicious behaviour to us straight away. Reporting will not ruin lives, but it could save them.”

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