People make all sorts of hateful, violent, and extremist comments online behind the anonymity of their computer screens.
Most of those comments aren’t taken seriously since people see what they truly are: sad, empty threats. However, when an English woman saw a man was genuinely planning a terrorist attack, she immediately called the police. It wasn’t until the trial that the alleged homophobic terrorist and revealed why that was impossible…
An Accidental Invitation
In June 2017, a woman from Cumbria in North West England was accidentally invited into a Facebook group called the National Socialists Union standing against the New World Order by a Facebook friend, Ethan Stables, who also lived in the area.
A Disturbing Discovery
At first, the woman didn’t know what the page was about, but when she read some of Stables’ posts in the group, she was horrified by what she saw. The page was littered with the 20-year-old’s violent and radical far-right rants against homosexuals and other religions, as well as photos of Stables with Nazi memorabilia…
The woman was disgusted but knew a lot of people write disgusting, hateful things online, However, when she saw what he posted on June 23, she knew she had to contact the police and make an official report as she believed lives were really in danger.
That morning, Stables had gone online and ranted about how furious he was that the New Empire Pub, a local bar in his town, was working with the Furness LGBT support group to host a Pride Night. According to the owners, the event was to show that everyone was welcome at the pub…
The morning of the Pride Night event, Stables posted that he was ‘going to war’ and that he was going to, ‘slaughter every single one of the gay bastards.’ In addition to his threatening statements, Stables also posted photos of the machete he bought and planned to use later that night.
“That’s not right, Ethan,” said the young woman who had accidentally been added into the radical Facebook group. “I’ve had enough,” Stables answered. “I don’t want to live in a gay world and I sure as hell don’t want my children living in one. What happened to our traditional qualities…”
A Real Threat
“I don’t care if I die, I’m fighting for what I believe in and that is the future of my country, my folk, and my race,” Stables added. “I’m going to make the news. I want them to know they’re being targeted. Tonight is going to be a good night, and the beginning of the end.”
Filing A Report
The woman immediately contacted the police and reported the terrorist threats that she found online and put out her own warning on her Facebook page. “If you’re in Barrow-in-Furness, please do not attend the LGBT gay pride night at the pub,” she wrote…
In the post, the woman also included screenshots of Stables’ posts and their conversation as proof of what the 20-year-old was planning to do. “I’ve reported it to the police but still don’t go,” the woman warned.
Responding To The Tip
The police took the threat very seriously and immediately sent officers to the New Empire Pub, where the staff was preparing for Pride Night. “Four armed police came in with their guns ready to go,” said barmaid Katy Bolger. “It was so, so frightening. I felt like a deer in the headlights…”
Securing The Area
“The first thing they said was ‘is there any other way people can get in or out of this pub?’ And they said someone had made a terrorist threat and that this person was going to come in during the event and harm people,” Katy explained.
The Manhunt Begins
Armed officers secured the area and told the pub owners, Lorraine and Steve Neale, to continue with their event as usual. They promised that nothing would happen under their protection that night. Meanwhile, another team of officers was searching for Stables…
The Search Is Over
Just after 10 that night, the team of armed officers searching for Stables spotted him walking from his apartment to the pub, which was just down the road. Stables was unarmed, and police believed he was doing 1 last reconnaissance trip to the pub like he had earlier that day before carrying out his plan.
After taking Stables into custody, officers broke down the door to his tiny apartment to look for evidence. Inside, they found a huge swastika flag on the wall, a variety of weapons, and evidence that he had been making a bomb by collecting the explosive residue from the tips of matches…
No Proof Of A Crime
While in custody, Stables would not answer any questions the North West Counter-Terrorism Unit in the Greater Manchester Police, who had taken over his case. Ultimately, they were forced to let him go because they had no proof of a criminal offense.
Just a few days later on June 27, the police arrested Stables again. This time, he admitted to writing the posts on Facebook and police had found a copy of a bomb-making manual on 1 of his devices, which was the evidence they needed to charge him with making threats to kill. Later, the charge was preparing an act of terrorism, which can lead to a life sentence…
During the trial, Stables’ attorney argued he was never serious about the threats. He also explained that Stables had mental health issues and had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. He also told the court that Stables was ashamed about his bisexuality and only said those things to impress his far-right friends online.
The prosecution, however, argued the threats were real and told the court how Stables posted videos of himself burning rainbow flags online, regularly searched for information on extremist groups, and searched for instructions on how to build weapons and be a terrorist. The prosecution also shared his conversations with people online. “My country is being raped. I might just become a skinhead and kill people,” Stables was quoted saying in 1 conversation…
The Jury Reaches A Decision
Stables’ own mother even testified that her son changed after a trip to Germany. Mental health services gave her little support, and she was ultimately forced to kick Stables out of her home when he was 17 because he threatened to decapitate her and burn the house down. The jury decided that the information about Stables’ sexuality was irrelevant, and found him guilty as he was a real threat to the people attending Pride Night.
When it came time to sentencing, Judge Peter Collier ordered Stables to an indefinite hospital order, which he would only be released from by a mental health tribunal or the Ministry of Justice. If released, Stables will be closely monitored for terrorism for 10 years and will be forced to indefinitely report his whereabouts. “The prosecution said it was a pack of lies as you tried to manipulate your way out of the situation. The very fact [your lying] is a live issue is one of the real risks you pose. Your responsibility is diminished by your condition. It is my clear decision the protection of the public requires a hospital order and a restriction order and that is what I make,” Judge Collier said.