Bright, well-read and articulate, Jack Reed grew up in a middle-class home and attended one of the best state schools in the country.
But he is in prison, locked up after becoming the youngest person to be convicted of plotting a terrorist attack in Britain.
Reed, who can finally be named after a bid to keep his identity secret was rejected yesterday, amassed a horrifying library of neo-Nazi propaganda.
Beach day: A smiling Reed with his parents (whose faces have been obscured)
Aged 16, he was convicted of attempting to obtain ingredients to make explosives in a twisted bid to start a ‘race war’ in his home city of Durham. When he was sentenced, a judge rejected a bid by the media to identify him because he also faced separate child sex charges – for which he has now been given an additional 18 months.
Now, however, following Reed’s failed bid to maintain his anonymity after he turned 18, his descent into fanaticism can be revealed.
He is one of six teenage boys convicted of terror offences linked to extreme neo-Nazi groups in the past 18 months. Experts on radicalisation fear the isolation faced by young people during the pandemic will lead to more falling into their grip.
Museum visit: Reed
Described as ‘highly intelligent,’ Reed attended Durham Johnston Comprehensive, one of England’s top 100 state schools, and grew up in a £500,000 home.
Family photographs show the fresh-faced teenager enjoying seaside holidays and tourist attractions. His father, a quantity surveyor, and mother were worried about their son being ‘labelled’ after he showed autistic tendencies, according to medical reports produced before his sentencing.
Having been searching for extremist material since he was 12, Reed was referred to the Government’s Prevent deradicalisation programme two years later.
By then, he was using a portrait of Rhodesia’s 1970s white leader Ian Smith as his Facebook profile and had set up a Twitter profile named ‘Mosley was right’ – a reference to British 1930s fascist leader Oswald Mosley.
In one post he claimed Hitler started the Second World War to protect German lives and branded Winston Churchill a ‘war-monger’. In another, he argued national socialism ‘promotes order and Christian values’.
A court heard that Reed spent most of his free time ‘locked in a darkened room with his laptop, spouting bile’. Police had continued monitoring his posts, and arrested him in 2019 as he set off for school.
In his pocket they found the chilling note: ‘Killing is probably easier than your paranoid mind thinks. You’re just not used to it. Most were caught because they got sloppy.’
He drafted his own manifesto boasting about ‘the inevitable race war’ and threatening local synagogues. It was entitled his ‘A Manual For Practical And Sensible Guerrilla Warfare Against The Kike System In The Durham City Area, Sieg Heil’.
Analysis of his laptop and mobile phone uncovered multiple searches on firearms, explosives, knives and ‘lone wolf’ attacks.
He became obsessed with a grim cast of notorious murderers and terrorists including Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, Norwegian far-Right mass killer Anders Breivik and Columbine High School shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. The teenager was also photographed with English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson at a book signing, his trial heard. In August 2018 he wrote a to-do list, which included the instruction ‘shed empathy’.
He investigated making explosives and poisonous ricin and assembled a library of far-Right literature described by an expert as ‘more extreme than anything he had ever seen’.
Manual of hate: Pages from Jack Reed’s ‘manifesto’
Giving evidence, he said he had few friends and no intention of carrying out any attacks, insisting he adopted a fake persona for ‘shock value’. In November 2019, Reed – then 16 – was found guilty of six offences at Manchester Crown Court including preparation of terrorist acts and disseminating a terrorist publication. The following January a judge ordered him to be detained for six years and eight months.
Judge David Stockdale QC said ‘perhaps most disturbing’ element of the case was that Reed was ‘a highly intelligent, widely read, quick-thinking and articulate young man’.
Before Christmas at Leeds Youth Court, Reed was given a separate 18-month custodial sentence for five sexual assaults against a schoolgirl.
That sentence will run concurrently with his term for the terror offences.
His identification follows submissions from the media and a judge’s ruling that the Crown Court has ‘no power… to make the order sought’.