A man with mental health problems, who planned to blow up a mosque from his Thornton Heath care home in revenge for the Manchester Arena atrocity, was receiving over £1,000 in back dated benefits which he used to buy Crack Cocaine and bomb making equipment.
Steven Bishop was described as a ‘dangerous and unpredictable’ right-wing extremist who was obsessed with the Manchester terrorist attack in 2017 and the death of eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos. Bishop was jailed for four year’s today.
The court heard that the 41-year-old, who is an alcoholic and drug addict is on the autistic spectrum and suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
It emerged that in the lead up to his arrest Bishop had received a backlog of benefit payments, totalling up to £1,215 a week, last August which he had used to purchase crack cocaine and equipment to plan the bombing.
One of his key workers had contacted police after Bishop showed her images of items he was collecting. Two days before he was arrested on October 29 he had a firing device delivered to his home. He told her that his purpose was to build a ‘bomb’ using semtex and to blow up a mosque.
Bishop who was under the care of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and was placed at an address in Melfort Road by Sutton Council, was a supporter of Standing for Britain, a right-wing Pro-Brexit group that highlights crimes said to have been committed by Muslims.
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At Kingston Crown Court on Monday, Bishop, pleaded guilty to possessing an explosive substance with intent, having already pleaded guilty to collecting information likely to be useful to committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
When police analysed his smartphone, they found he had viewed videos about the Manchester, London Bridge and Paris terrorist attacks and search for information on how to access the dark web.
He had also posted a comment on Facebook about the victims of the Manchester Arena attack where he said: “Don’t worry something bad is going to happen soon mark my words.”
Two VPN apps, designed to hide what websites the user has been visiting, were installed on his phone, but police found a webpage was still open showing Bishop had been researching information on explosives detonators.
He had also done online searches for Morden mosque.
When police had first gone to Bishop’s home after the key worker raised concerns, he claimed he was only planning to let off fireworks at his mother’s home.
At Bishop’s Thornton Heath home officers found the stash of fireworks, which had been tampered with, and other equipment used to make homemade incendiary devices, including fuses, a remote control and ignitor.
Meanwhile, at his mother’s house they found a red suitcase with more parts that could be used to make an incendiary device.
There were also hand-written notes by Bishop, detailing how to make explosives and how to access the dark web.
Prosecutor Simon Drew told an earlier hearing that Bishop was a ‘dangerous and unpredictable man who has a violent past’, and had stolen from his mother in the past.
Today the prosecutor said Bishop was in receipt of two types of state benefit – employment support allowance of £372 per fortnight and personal independence payments of £342.40 per month.
Judge Peter Lodder QC said: “Prior to August 2018 there had been a control on the money you received.
“That control was lifted and you received between £500 and £1,215 a week.
“This enabled you to purchase crack cocaine as well as electronic equipment such as the VPN.”
Commander Clarke Jarrett head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command said it was “clear” that Bishop was stockpiling parts with the intention of targeting a mosque.
He added:”Thanks to the diligence of his key worker in alerting us we were able to intervene before he could progress with his plans any further and crucially, nobody came to any harm.
“This example shows that information we get from the public really can help to protect the public and save lives. If you have any information about suspicious or terrorist activity, then please ACT and call police on 0800 728 321.
“Given Bishop was focussed upon a mosque, and in light of recent events in New Zealand, we also know that Muslim and other faith communities may be feeling particularly concerned and vulnerable. Specialist officers continue to provide support and protective security advice to mosques, and indeed all places of worship across the UK on how to best keep their buildings and visitors safe.”
Bishop was remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced on April 10.