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Police issue warning over terrorist use of 3D-printed guns as UK neo-Nazi jailed

·4-min read
Police issue warning over terrorist use of 3D-printed guns as UK neo-Nazi jailed
Neo-Nazi Dean Morrice, 34, was convicted of terror and explosives offences (CTPSE)
Neo-Nazi Dean Morrice, 34, was convicted of terror and explosives offences (CTPSE)

Police have issued a warning over the potential use of 3D-printed guns by terrorists after the first UK case involving the homemade weapons.

Dean Morrice, 34, had parts of a 3D-printed firearm at his home near Bristol, alongside bomb components.

The neo-Nazi was jailed for 18 years on Monday after being eight terror offences and two counts of possessing explosive substances.

Kingston Crown Court heard that Morrice had shared the online manifesto of Stephan Balliet, who took a partly 3D-printed gun on a 2019 rampage targeting a synagogue and kebab shop in Germany.

Balliet called the shooting “live testing” in a post ahead of the attack, and listed his primary objective as “proving the viability of improvised weapons”.

Morrice, a former British army driver, had also shared manifestos by the Christchurch and Norway shooters, and ran his own social media channel that encouraged far-right terror attacks.

Detective Chief Superintendent Kath Barnes, the head of Counter-Terrorism Policing South East, said Morrice had “terrorist intentions”.

“This is the first terrorism case which has taken evidence obtained by use of a 3D printer to court. Police will continuously update knowledge and tactics to ensure the disruption of the wrongful use of new technology, as in this case,” she added.

“Although the weapon [made by Morrice] was not viable in the current state it was found in, in the wrong hands with the right capability it could have become one.”

Det Ch Supt Barnes said law enforcement agencies were working to keep “one step ahead” of changing technology and terror plots.

“Through dedicated investigation, Morrice was stopped before he was able to carry out any physical act of terror but the evidence showed that he actively encouraged terrorism to others with his toxic ideology and had the intention and potentially the capability to commit one himself,” she added.

A 3D printer owned by Morrice (CTPSE)
A 3D printer owned by Morrice (CTPSE)

Morrice, who had two 3D printers in his garage, had collected instructions on making 3D-printed firearms and gun parts.

Judge Peter Lodder QC said he was also in possession of ball bearings, pipes and instructions for the preparation of bombs.

“It is fortunate that the police arrested you when they did,” he told the defendant.

Judge Lodder jailed Morrice for 18 years and handed him an extended five-year licence period because of his dangerousness.

He was previously convicted of two counts of possessing explosive substances without a lawful purpose, one of encouraging terrorism, three of disseminating terrorist publications and four of possessing documents useful to a terrorist.

Narita Bahra QC, for the defence, told the sentencing hearing that “no actual harm” was caused by the offending and said Morrice was “vulnerable” at the time.

“It could be that someone takes the view looking at his background and mental health issues, that he was over that process of 17 months groomed or radicalised by the people around him,” she added.

“We submit he was a vulnerable individual who was drawn into the online world of far-right extremism and hate.”

Morrice admitted having “fascist and neo-Nazi views” in court but denied all offences and said he did not believe in violence towards ethnic or religious groups.

He said he developed an interest in politics in around 2008 or 2009 and was initially a “fan” of Nigel Farage, but then became more extreme.

He said he joined Ukip because he supported its views and was a member until “a few years ago”.

The court heard that Morrice later became more extreme, and shared violent material supporting the banned Sonnenkrieg Division neo-Nazi terrorist group and US-based National Socialist Order.

He ran his own channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram that “pumped out neo-Nazi propaganda which encouraged killing of non-whites and Jewish people”.

One post read: “We must guarantee that our propaganda reaches every white soul on this tiny planet of ours … I call upon you once more to constantly, tirelessly carry out the great mission of our propaganda minister, Dr Goebbels, ensuring the spread of the National-Socialist Truth 24/7.”

Morrice made more than 642 posts on the channel between January and August last year, including memes, videos, messages and links to publications.

By the time of his arrest on 20 August 2020, the channel had 720 subscribers.

Judge Lodder said Morrice had been leaving a “double life” and fooled his friends and loved ones over his activities.

“You have described yourself as a patriot,” he told the defendant. “You are not a patriot, you are a dangerous neo-Nazi, your bigotry and hatred is abhorrent to the overwhelming majority in this country.”

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