Neo Nazi trial

Soldier Accused Of Neo-Nazi Membership Had Adapted Body Armour And Arsenal Of Weaponry, Court Told

The British soldier also owned an illustrated colour picture of white nationalist Anders Breivik machine-gunning a crowd of people and a...

Neo Nazi trial

Cover: court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Mikko Vehvilainen (left) and Mark Barrett (centre) on trial at Birmingham Crown Court. (Picture: PA)

A serving British soldier accused of being a banned neo-Nazi group member had spray-painted black body armour and an arsenal of weaponry at home, a court heard.

Also found at another of Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen's properties was an illustrated colour picture of white nationalist Anders Breivik machine-gunning a crowd of people, including members of ethnic minorities, and a host of Nazi memorabilia.

In the back of an upstairs bedroom wardrobe at the Army's Sennybridge Camp, Powys, Vehvilainen also had, pinned-up inside, a Swastika flag.

Birmingham Crown Court heard on Friday that when he opened the wardrobe doors in front of the arresting police officers, he told them:

"That's what this is all about, isn't it?"

Army trainer Vehvilainen, 33, and fellow Royal Anglian Regiment soldier Private Mark Barrett, 25, are both charged with being members of banned group National Action.

A 23-year-old male, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also stands accused of the same charge.

Giving evidence, Sergeant Major Scott Thomas, of the Royal Anglians, described what he found when checking Vehvilainen's Sennybridge home for any leftover Army equipment.

Karen Robinson, prosecuting, asked if he discovered some Osprey Army-issue body armour which had been "adapted in colour" from its normal camouflage pattern.

Sgt Maj Thomas said it had been "sprayed black", along with a piece of equipment called a "ballistic nappy".

Vehvilainen also had a lighter-weight "plate carrier" body armour harness, which Sgt Maj Thomas said was not equipment ordinary soldiers were issued.

He said: "Plate carriers are like a light-weight version of body armour really only issued to special forces, these wouldn't be issued to normal line infantry."

Daren Samat, Vehvilainen's barrister, asked if the Osprey armour had been issued by the Army until as recently as 2014.

But Sgt Maj Thomas replied that while Osprey was still used by "some units", it was not employed by his base colleagues. He told the court:

"There would be no reason for Cpl Vehvilainen to have this in his possession at that time."

Birmingham crown court

Jurors heard that counter-terrorism officers from North Wales and Dyfed Powys also searched a house Vehvilainen was renovating in Llansilin, Powys, on September 5, 2017.

Ms Robinson said police found a box of gel-fuel blocks, two lock knives, National Action flyers, Nazi badges and flags, an SS ceremonial dagger, "Swastika bunting" and Adolf Hitler stickers.

In another room, in a locked cabinet, he also had a licensed pump action shotgun and 13 shells, and an air rifle, the court heard.

He also kept a scrapbook with newspapers cuttings, flyers and far-right leaflets that referred to "race traitors" and "wiggas", while in another bedroom was found the Breivik illustration.

Vehvilainen was arrested at about 7am after answering his door, confirming his identity and telling his wife:

"I'm being arrested for being a patriot."

He is also accused of two counts of stirring up racial hatred and possessing a document containing terrorist information, known as the Anders Breivik manifesto.

Jurors have already been told that Vehvilainen had admitted possession of a CS gas canister - also found at Llansilin.

The other male, who cannot be named, is also charged with three counts of having a document likely to be of use to terrorists, and another of distributing a publication contrary to terror laws.

The trial, expected to last another three weeks, continues.