Ashley Sharp: Racist and homophobic Leeds prison officer who ran far-right fitness club jailed for eight years

An "extremely dangerous" prison officer who ran a far-right fitness club has been jailed for eight years for possessing a "murder manual" for white supremacists.

Ashley Sharp set up the White Stag Athletic Club to create a "brotherhood" and train others to be soldiers for the racist cause, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

The 42-year-old father-of-two from Barnsley was fired from his job with the Prison Service following his arrest and was working as a truck driver before being found guilty of possession of a document likely to be useful to a terrorist - a copy of the 200-page White Resistance Manual.

Prosecutor Denise Breen-Lawton said the document contained "numerous ways to commit terrorist attacks," including information on how to kill people, use different weapons, build bombs and evade the police.

Judge Jeremy Richardson KC jailed Sharp for eight years, with an extended sentence of five years, on Thursday, and said he would send his sentencing remarks to Justice Secretary Alex Chalk, who is responsible for prisons.

"I have no idea what, if any, vetting was undertaken by the prison service when you obtained your job as a prison officer or what monitoring there was of you once in post," he told Sharp.

"I have absolutely no doubt that a man with the perverted and extremely dangerous views you hold should never be employed in the responsible position of a prison officer.

"I regard the fact you were a prison officer to be a very serious matter.

"You had contact with vulnerable white men who were disadvantaged and disaffected, some of whom may well have been ripe for selection by you, had the situation presented itself."

The jury was played a video Sharp made on his way home from a shift at Armley jail in Leeds, wearing his uniform, in which he boasted: "They didn't get rid of me.

"It's been a real good 'un this job actually. Kicking a*** and taking names basically. It's been really, really good fun, lots of busts for drugs and a bit of violence."

Calling himself "Sarge", Sharp vetted potential recruits to his fitness club with questions including: "Are you Jewish? Are you homosexual? Are you a Muslim? What are your views on race mixing?"

He told followers in a speech he was honoured to be the their "commander" and listed their "heroes", including the Nazi leaders Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heidrich, and Adolf Hitler.

The prosecutor said Sharp was "a racist and a homophobe and a white supremacist" and his group participated in "combat sports" because they were "training for the coming race war".

The judge told Sharp: "This was not some form of ludicrous sports club. You were recruiting men with equally malevolent views to your own for a malign purpose.

"The simple fact of the matter is you created a cauldron of self-absorbed neo-Nazism masquerading as a low grade all-male sports club. This sought to camouflage your real purpose to incite violence against those you hated with a vengeance."

He said the views expressed in the manual were "vile", describing it as a document which "furnishes those, like you, who harbour perverted and extreme white supremacist attitudes and views, with the wherewithal to commit murder - it is a murder manual for white supremacists."

"I have no doubt whatsoever you harboured terrorist intentions and your motivation was terrorism," he said.

"I doubt you would have perpetrated this yourself, although that is something of which I cannot be sure - you may have been so overwhelmed by hatred that you may, in time, have perpetrated a terrorist act."

Sharp also had a balaclava and two face coverings with skull markings on, of the type seen in white supremacist videos, the court was told.

In mitigation, Peter Eguae, said Sharp's group was aimed at "self-improvement," adding: "There is no evidence the defendant has done anything violent, no evidence that he ever engaged in violence as a prison guard."

Sharp was cleared of a separate charge relating to neo-Nazi rap songs.

Detective Chief Superintendent James Dunkerley, head of Counter-Terrorism Policing North East said: "Tackling extremist and instructional material is an essential part of protecting the public and preventing it from potentially influencing or informing the actions of others.

"We will prosecute anyone found to be in possession of such material and will continue work with our partners to remove content of concern from online platforms."

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