A man who became the first serving British police officer to be convicted of a terrorism offence has been jailed for four years and four months.
Benjamin Hannam, who was found guilty this month of membership of the banned neo-Nazi group National Action, worked as a Metropolitan police probationary officer for nearly two years before his details were found on a leaked database from an extreme rightwing forum.
The 22-year-old, who pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited image of a child, was also convicted of lying on his application and vetting forms to join the force and having two terror documents detailing knife combat and making explosive devices.
“I consider what you did to be very serious and you have harmed public trust in the police by your deceit,” he was told by Judge Anthony Leonard QC during sentencing at the Old Bailey in London.
The judge said he did not believe that Hannam had deliberately infiltrated himself into the force so as to be useful to the far right at a later stage and that there was no evidence to suggest this.
“I also accept that your politics played absolutely no part in your policing,” he added.
During sentencing at the Old Bailey, Leonard said he was taking a number of mitigating factors into account, adding that he believed Hannam’s autism spectrum disorder made him “more susceptible” to National Action’s messaging.
This also explained why he meticulously stored some incriminating material that others might have thrown out, according to the judge.
While some of Hannam’s offences had taken place before he was 18, the judge said his wide-ranging reading of political literature from the age of 14 tended to suggest a certain maturity.
Details about the prohibited images possessed by Hannam, who was thrown out of the police last week, were aired at the sentencing hearing. It heard that detectives found a folder of “anime cartoons” of children and young people on the computer of the then police constable when his home was searched last year.
He was working as an officer among north London communities at the time. A ban on reporting the case was lifted after Hannam admitted possessing an indecent image of a child, which was to have been the subject of a separate trial.
Leonard also agreed to a request that a number of officers involved in the investigation should have commendations placed on their record.
The Met has faced criticism for not asking Hannam’s school for a reference, something campaigners say would have flagged up concerns about his views. The force insisted Hannam would never have been able to join the force had it known of his interest in extreme rightwing politics and his previous membership of National Action.