‘Virulent’ neo-Nazi taught toddler daughter the Hitler salute, court told

A “virulent” far-right terrorist trained his toddler daughter to perform a Nazi salute for the camera, a court has heard.

Darren Fletcher, who is set to be jailed at Birmingham Crown Court after pleading guilty to membership of neo-Nazi group National Action, then told another member, after recording the video, “finally got her to do it”.

Fletcher is one of six people in the process of being sentenced in a two-day hearing after they were convicted after trial or admitted being members of the banned organisation, outlawed by the Home Secretary in 2016.

Also being sentenced are “fanatical” neo-Nazi couple Adam Thomas, 22, and Claudia Patatas, 38, who jurors were told at their trial had named their baby “Adolf” in “admiration” of Hitler.

Adam Thomas and his partner Claudia Patatas with their newborn baby
Adam Thomas and his partner Claudia Patatas with their newborn baby

Searches by counter-terrorism police of their home in Waltham Gardens, Banbury, Oxfordshire, also discovered Swastika scatter cushions and a pastry-cutter shaped like the Nazi party symbol.

Photographs recovered from electronic devices showed Thomas cradling his newborn son while wearing the hooded white robes of a Ku Klux Klansman.

Adam Thomas wearing the hooded white robes of the Ku Klux Klan
Adam Thomas wearing the hooded white robes of the Ku Klux Klan

In conversation with another National Action member, Patatas said “all Jews must be put to death”, while Thomas had once told his partner he “found that all non-whites are intolerable”.

Former Amazon security guard Thomas and Patatas, a wedding photographer originally from Portugal who also wanted to “bring back concentration camps”, were found guilty after a seven-week trial.

Thomas, a twice-failed Army applicant, was also convicted on a majority verdict of having a terrorist manual, namely the Anarchist’s Cookbook, which jurors heard contained instructions on making “viable” bombs.

Claudia Patatas with supporter Michael Woodbridge
Claudia Patatas with supporter Michael Woodbridge

Daniel Bogunovic, 27, of Crown Hills Rise, Leicester, who was described in court on Friday as a “committed National Action leader, propagandist and strategist”, will also be sentenced in the hearing which is concluding next week.

He had stood trial alongside Thomas and Patatas, while three other men including Fletcher, 28, of Kitchen Lane, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, had admitted membership beforehand.

The two other men, cyber security worker and the Midlands’ National Action cell’s “banker” Joel Wilmore, 24, and van driver Nathan Pryke, 26, described as the group’s “security enforcer”, will also be sentenced.

Joel Wilmore
Joel Wilmore

Opening the case against Fletcher, Pryke, of Dartford Road, March, Cambridgeshire, and Wilmore, of Bramhall Road, Stockport, Greater Manchester, the Crown revealed how all had been committed members.

Fletcher had a previous conviction for stirring up racial hatred after being filmed hanging a life-size golliwog doll on stage at an extreme right-wing music event in 2013.

He was later jailed for 12 months and handed a criminal anti-social behaviour order forbidding him from socialising with his close friend and fellow neo-Nazi, Thomas.

He breached the order in May 2015, receiving a further eight months in jail, and has since admitted breaching the order again.

Opening the case, Barnaby Jameson QC, for the prosecution, told Judge Melbourne Inman QC there was a further “aggravating factor” which could affect Fletcher’s sentencing.

Footage of a girl said to have been recorded by Fletcher showed what the prosecutor described as “some suggestion Fletcher may have been trying to influence his child, or children”.

Addressing the judge, he added: “The court will have to perhaps take a view whether the child is waving or whether it is something more sinister.”

In a brief clip, played in court, the toddler was shown raising her right arm above her head, towards the camera, and then turning to walk off.

Mr Jameson said Fletcher, who had voluntarily decided not to appear in court on Friday, then sent a message to Patatas four minutes after the child was recorded which read: “Finally got her to do it.”

Darren Fletcher
Darren Fletcher

The next month, Fletcher sent a message to a chat group for senior National Action members in which he likened the stepmother and the witch in children’s book Hansel And Gretel to Jews.

Fletcher’s message read: “The stepmother is Jewish, trying to sell the children, and the witch likes to eat little girls, while making the boy her little slave, because she’s a feminist witch.

“My absolutely favourite part, though, is when the vile Jewish feminist witch gets shoved into the oven.

“I always yell Sieg Heil, and the big smirk that comes across my daughter’s face at that point, always melts my heart.”

It was the first time during the case that the video footage had been referred to.

Mr Jameson said: “What Fletcher had succeeded in doing, we say, was getting his daughter to give a Nazi salute.”

He added that all six had been members post-ban and taken part in the organisation’s chat groups, which were staging posts for comments of “virulent racism, particularly from Thomas, Patatas and Fletcher”.

Mr Jameson said: “Leaders Pryke, Wilmore and Bogunovic were more circumspect in their views but on occasion the true depth of their racial hatred leeched out.”

The sentencing hearing continues and is set to conclude on Monday, with each of the six defendants facing up to 10 years in jail.