Far-right terrorist who set fire to synagogue locked up in hospital indefinitely

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A far-right terrorist who was engulfed in a ball of flames when he set fire to a historic synagogue on a day commemorating the Holocaust has been locked up in hospital indefinitely.

“Deep-rooted” antisemitism

Hospital X-Ray technician and self-styled folk singer Tristan Morgan, 52, was spotted walking away carrying a petrol can and laughing as smoke spewed from the 18th-century synagogue in Exeter on 21 July last year.

Afterwards, CCTV was recovered showing Morgan being burned as he set light to the synagogue through a smashed window.

The defendant, from Exeter in Devon, admitted arson with intent to endanger life, encouraging terrorism by publishing a song entitled “White Man” to live-streaming website Soundcloud, and having a copy of the White Resistance Manual.

Judge Anthony Leonard QC handed Morgan a hospital order without limit of time, saying most people would feel “anger and revulsion” for what he did.

Read on...

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Outlining the facts, prosecutor Alistair Richardson said Morgan has “deep-rooted anti-Semitic belief, embodied in a desire to do harm to the Jewish community and an obsession with abhorrent anti-Semitic material”.

Morgan made songs “exhorting others to violence” against the Jewish community and had an array of material which “revelled in the degenerate views of Nazi Germany and white supremacists”, Richardson said.

“He appeared to be laughing”

On the evening of Saturday July 21 last year, he tried to burn down the synagogue “with no thought for any lives he might put at risk”, he said.

Richardson told how Zoe Baker and her partner Samual O’Brien were walking through Exeter City Centre when they heard a “loud bang” and saw an “orange glow and smoke” coming from the grade two listed building.

Concerned that someone might be hurt, they stopped and Baker saw the defendant walking from away carrying a green petrol can.

Richardson said “he appeared to be laughing”.

Morgan appeared “cocky” as he drove off in a Mercedes Vito van, according to the eyewitness account.

O’Brien and an employee of a nearby Mecca bingo tackled the blaze with fire extinguishers before the fire brigade arrived.

Firefighters found a “severe” fire in a room containing a gas boiler, which could have exploded.

Morgan’s van was identified on CCTV as well as footage of the defendant using a small axe to break a window of the synagogue.

Morgan told hospital staff treating him that
(Devon & Cornwall/PA)

“Please tell me that synagogue is burning to the ground”

The court was shown video of Morgan pouring liquid from his green petrol can through the window before he is engulfed in a ball of flames.

Police arrested him at his home in Alexander Terrace in Exeter.

As he opened the door to officers, the defendant, who smelt of petrol and burning, exclaimed: “That didn’t take long”.

He had burns to his hands, forehead and hair, the court heard.

In his pockets, he was carrying two lock knives and two lighters.

As he was put in a police van, Morgan said: “Please tell me that synagogue is burning to the ground, if not, it’s poor preparation.”

Damage inside the 18th century historic synagogue in Exeter, Devon (Devon & Cornwall Police/PA)
Damage inside the 18th century historic synagogue in Exeter, Devon (Devon & Cornwall Police/PA)

A “devastating” impact

The attack on the synagogue was described as “devastating” for the whole Jewish community.

The court heard the attack coincided with a Jewish feast day commemorating disasters, including the Holocaust.

The Exeter Synagogue, built in 1763, is the third oldest in Britain and remains a focal point for the Jewish community in the South West.

It underwent reconstruction in the 1990s and a £100,000 restoration project was completed in 2013.

The cost of repairing the fire damage was said to total more than £23,000.

The court heard how Morgan performed his song – calling for “White Man” to “kill your enemy” – under the alias of Arland Bran. His song was played 53 times.

The court heard he was psychotic at the time of the arson attack but had no previous history of violence.

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  • Show Comments
    1. One of the things I find so appalling about the focus on the left regarding antisemitism is it gives cover not just to the far right here, in Europe and stateside, many of whom are bonafide virulent antisemites, but also gives cover to the far right in Israel, as there is a purposeful conflation between criticism and action regarding the treatment of Palestinians and antisemitism.

      The worse part is the root of this isn’t about protecting people of the Jewish faith, it’s more about protecting the uber wealthy from left wing governments, who seek fairer societies, even though they already have everything set up in their favour. Something I find amazing is the glossing over of history and the pivotal role Jewish people have played in the evolution of the left.

      Fighting for a more just society which will have the benefit of alleviating a lot of pain and unnecessary suffering, which can lead to anger, aggression and the development of mental illness for quite a few, some of whom can then become prime candidates to have their aggression misdirected onto established scapegoats, like the man in this article.

    2. To dismiss an individual or group’s hate – no matter how horrid their resulting actions – as “misdirected [aggression]” and trivialize it thus can only be the product of intellectual challenges. Your lack of understanding of how people work is showing.

      1. The flaw in your argument is simply if this wasn’t a case of misdirected aggression, you would have to show what harm a member of this synagogue or someone connected to it, had inflicted on this man personally, to cause him to respond in this way.

        You’d be hard pressed to find any examples of aggression from the far right that isn’t the result of misplaced anger and manipulation from people higher up the pecking order, seeking to escape consequences for their greedy impulses and actions. After all the right generally and the far right in particular are suckers for kissing the asses of people they consider to be above them and kicking the asses of people they consider to be beneath them.

    3. Looking at the state of the perpetrator and how he went about his crime, it amazes me how so many who consider themselves part of some master race usually appear the least able to sire one.

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