Serving soldier and self-confessed racist cleared of terrorism offence
British Army trainer Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen had already admitted possession of a CS gas canister found at his house.
A serving British soldier and white supremacist who kept a photo of himself giving a Nazi-style salute has been cleared of a terrorism offence.
Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, who collected a host of legally-held weaponry, pleaded guilty to having a banned canister of CS gas, which he kept in the drawer of a home he was renovating.
He had a photograph at the property in Llansilin, Powys, Wales, which showed him giving a Nazi-type salute at a memorial to his native Finland’s independence, in 1917.
A Birmingham Crown Court jury cleared him on Thursday of possession of a terrorism document – the Anders Breivik manifesto – and two counts of stirring up racial hatred relating to forum posts on a white nationalist website.
Licensed firearms holder Vehvilainen, of the Royal Anglian Regiment, was an Afghan veteran, Army boxer and a well-regarded non-commissioned officer.
Vehvilainen lived at barracks with his family at Sennybridge Camp, Brecon, where he kept a homemade target dummy in his garage, a container filled with 11 knives, knuckle-dusters, and a face mask and a box of Nazi flags – all legally-held.
He also customised Army-issue body armour, spray-painting it black, and had wiring and electrical parts capable of being made into a crude EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) device.
Further searches revealed a Hitler Youth knife and a ceremonial SS dagger, in the vein of the feared Second World War German paramilitary organisation.
Vehvilainen, who kept a licensed shotgun, a crossbow and bow and homemade arrows, had also written to two men jailed for race crimes, including a man convicted of making anti-Semitic remarks to Labour MP Luciana Berger, telling them “there is still hope”.
The married father penned a draft of an extreme right-wing magazine he entitled Extinction, railing against inter-race relationships, “unnatural” homosexuality and “non-whites”.
Vehvilainen’s barrister Pavlos Panayi QC told jurors, at the start of the trial, it was “not in dispute that he (Vehvilainen) is a racist”, but that it was not a crime simply to hold such views.
Vehvilainen’s phone also showed 900 visits to white nationalist website Cristogenea.org.
Vehvilainen kept lists of weaponry and added to his collection, which prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC told jurors was “putting into effect his repeated call, quite literally, to arms on the part of those who, like him, wanted to create a white-only society”.
An entry in a notebook found at Vehvilainen’s address, read: “Be prepared to fight and die for your race in a possible last stand for our survival.”
Mr Atkinson said: “The lists – and indeed the substantial quantity of weaponry recovered from his address – reveal and speak to his intention to stockpile weapons and other equipment in preparation for the ‘race war’ that he spoke of.”
In Vehvilainen’s wardrobe, where he kept his uniform, police found a Nazi flag pinned to the inside of the door.
When he opened its door, he turned to officers, saying: “That’s what this is about, isn’t it?”
On his arrest on September 5 last year, Vehvilainen told his wife: “I’m being arrested for being a patriot.”
He was on trial alongside 25-year-old Private Mark Barrett, also of the Royal Anglians, and formerly of Kendrew barracks, Cottesmore, Rutland.
Barrett was acquitted of a separate charge of membership of the proscribed far right organisation National Action, on Thursday.
Also on trial was a 23-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, who was also cleared of having Breivik’s manifesto, but convicted of three other terrorism offences.
The male was found guilty of possession of a laptop “mega folder” which prosecutors said contained “step-by-step instructions” for killing people and the manufacture of explosives.
He was also convicted of having terrorism document the White Resistance Manual, which had entries on “arson, sabotage and selective assassinations”, and of distributing a terrorist publication, called Ethnic Cleansing Operations.
When the jury delivered their verdicts, the male shouted: “It’s a complete sham.”
Vehvilainen and the other male, who are both in custody, will be sentenced on Friday.