Friday, 17 July 2009

Round-Up: The Tilehurst Terrorist

I am Junius draws our attention to the case of Neil Lewington, who has been found guilty at the Old Bailey of 'having explosives with intent to endanger life' and 'preparing for acts of terrorism'.

Media Circus

The local press has had a field day with the story and completely went to town by publishing a series of reports on this national news story.

Reading Post reports on the trial opening, the delay in reaching a verdit, his conviction, the prospective custodial sentence, before allowing coverage to proliferate in the hope of gaining the exclusive insider information.

According to the news editors, 43-year-old Mr Lewington, who resided with his parents in Church End Lane until his capture, wanted to 'rid the country of non-Brits' and had a directly racist agenda epitomised by the fact he amassed a collction of offensive 'jokes', which combined with an unquenchable anger and ultimately combined to set him on a path to consider violent action.

However the local tabloid did get the scoop with an interview with former girlfriend, Theresa Quelch, who described his unreliablility and attention-grabbing antics.

Reading Chronicle published for-the-record reports of Mr Lewington's arrest, his remand in custody, the delayed verdict and his conviction, while Newbury Weekly News also reports the story in a more succinct single article.

Google News provides a more comprehensive round-up of the thousands of articles published and the inevitable speculation and more-or-less casual interpretations on the matter.

Odd-ball or Real Threat?

Interpretations of Mr Lewingon have varied in range from being an 'immature alcoholic' to a white supremacist and real threat to national security and social cohesion, who exposes an underlying alienation in modern UK culture.

The BBC's Dominic Casciani provides an 'official' view of the case of Mr Lewington.

He explains that the apprehension of the man who has been found guilty and imprisoned for conspiring to commit explosions was a matter of chance by an alert Police officer, who called in a public order offence.

The investigation quickly escalated as 'improvised incendiary devices' (tennis balls filled with explosives) were found among his hand luggage, while a search of the Church End Land premises revealed an amateur bomb-making factory with apparent instruction literature from a small underground para-military group and extreme right-wing propaganda.

Mr Lewington refused to respond during 14 interviews and further investigation by counter-terrorism officers found no connection with any other group known to pose security threats. He had been unemployed for 10 years and was known to indulge in threatening behaviour.

It is likely that the full truth of the matter will remain a mystery until his defensive psychological shield is let down.

Local Reaction

Nowtas cites the New Statesman to suggest one reason the story hadn't previously been as widely reported as might otherwise be expected is that Mr Lewington is a white Briton from a comfortable middle-class suburb, reflecting the news media agenda as directed from political leaders at their target audience (the voting electorate).

Meanwhile Gideon Mack expresses his frustration and ire at extremists on both sides - he says racist terrorist Mr Lewington and religious terrorist Muhammed Gul could happily have satisfied themselves by blowing each other to bits while saving the rest of us the bother of dealing with their sad and lonely existences - harsh, perhaps, but it reflects the ironic truth that law-abiding citizens are always the victims of misguided fanaticism.

Oranjepan asks:
Whatever the real motivations and intentions of this middle-aged man from suburbia it is good that he has been picked up before he could cause any real harm, so it's possible to hope that he may now get the guidance he needs to make something productive of his life. It is a shame that a man could fall so far through the net in one of the most prosperous parts of the country before he was picked up and we should consider how many other people are becoming isolated and set adift in our community in this day and age.

What is being done to ensure nobody is left behind?


  1. Throw away the key.

  2. Would not surprise me if his life was simular to David Copeland the Farnborough nail bomber. Shame there both so local


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