'Neo-Nazi group member' accused found 'hiding' in cupboard, court told

A man accused of being a member of a banned neo-Nazi terrorist group was found kneeling in an airing cupboard after giving away his hiding place, a court heard.

The 23-year-old replied "bloody hell" when asked by a detective "what are you doing in there?", during the counter-terrorism raid.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is on trial alongside two serving British soldiers at Birmingham Crown Court, with all three accused of membership of the extreme far right group National Action.

Giving evidence on Monday, Detective Constable Luke Bielby of West Midlands Police, said officers followed intelligence which led them to a flat.

National Action court case
Birmingham Crown Court where two serving soldiers and another man are on trial accused of being members of the banned group National Action. (Joe Giddens/PA)

The door of that address was answered by another male, who claimed the police's target had "been there and then left again".

But asked by Duncan Atkinson QC, prosecuting, what prompted officers to press ahead with the search, Mr Bielby described hearing a noise.

He said: "He (the male) opened the door and it led to another corridor with stairs - and from behind him there was a noise.

"So we went up the stairs to see what the noise was."

He added: "We went up there and looked in a number of rooms, and there was nothing there.

"But there was a cupboard.

"It's like some kind of storage cupboard."

Mr Atkinson asked: "When you opened the door, other than the boiler, was there anything else in there?"

The officer replied: "Yes, he was kneeling down in the cupboard.

"I just asked him 'what are you doing in a cupboard'?"

"His response was 'bloody hell'.

"I then asked him to come out of the cupboard, and again said 'what are you doing in the cupboard', and he said 'no comment'."

National Action trial
Two of the men on trial are also accused of having a copy of Anders Breivik's manifesto. (PA)

The male claimed he had thrown his mobile phone in a bin, however it was recovered along with other belongings from the cupboard, the jury were told.

As he was being led from the flat under arrest, jurors also heard how he shouted to the man who had opened the door to police "don't co-operate with them".

The male is also charged with three counts of possession of information likely to be of use to terrorists, and an allegation he distributed such material.

His co-accused, are Royal Anglian Regiment soldiers; Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, 33, of Sennybridge Camp, Powys, and Private Mark Barrett, 25, of Dhekalia station, Alexander Barracks, Cyprus, but formerly of Kendrew Barracks, Cottesmore, Rutland.

Vehvilainen also faces two further charges of stirring up racial hatred and one count of having a terrorist publication, namely the Anders Breivik manifesto.

The men deny any wrong-doing and the trial, expected to last three weeks, continues.

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