Three British volunteers who fought against ISIS had terrorism charges against them dropped today (Fri) after they branded the case a ‘joke’.
Former paratrooper Daniel Burke, 33, father and son Paul and Samuel Newey all faced years behind bars for helping the Kurds in their war against the death cult if convicted.
Burke served in the armed forces from 2007 to 2009 and was deployed on active duty to Afghanistan for one year.
Returning home to Manchester, he was horrified by what he saw happening in the Middle East and volunteered to fight with the Kurds.
Burke fought with them in their war against ISIS in Iraq and Iran for eight months between May 2017 and June 2018 before returning home.
Counter terrorism police investigated his actions overseas and kept him under surveillance while he lived with his mother.
But in June 2019 Burke was told no further action was going to be taken in relation to his visit to Syria as it was not in the public interest.
He was warned he was not immune from prosecution if he returned to Syria for a second time.
In November of that year he filmed himself in Spain with fellow fighter 27-year-old Daniel Newey.
In the footage they mocked the counter terrorism unit and said they would never come back to Europe.
Daniel Newey was recorded saying:
’We’re not going back to Europe, we’re never going back to the UK because we won’t be allowed.
‘There’s like four people on our flight, there’s the plane, what you saying CTU (counter terrorism unit), can’t catch me CTU, ya get me’.
On December 7, 2019 Burke was stopped at Dover port and arrested.
Prosecutors claimed he was attempting to go back to Syria.
When he was formally charged on 19 December by counter terrorism police he replied:
‘I’m not a terrorist. You know I am not a terrorist.
‘I have done nothing but fight for this country. This is a f*****g joke.’
He was due to be tried at Birmingham Crown Court with Paul, 49, and his son Samuel, 19, who were said to have aided Daniel Newey, their son and brother respectively, while he was fighting.
Newey and Burke knew each other and fought alongside one another in the conflict.
Paul was charged with sending £50 followed by £100 to his son between 3 and 7 November 2019 while Samuel was said to have assisted his elder brother between 1 and 7 of the same month.
Paul faced a single charge of entering into a funding arrangement with cause to suspect the money was going towards terrorism while, Samuel allegedly assisted in the preparation of terrorist acts.
These charges were dropped today (Fri).
Simon Davis prosecuting said:
‘There is now insufficient evidence to sustain a realistic prospect of conviction.
‘Today the case had been listed at the prosecution’s request. In advance of today the prosecution notified all parties of the intention to offer no evidence.’
Burke was accused of helping his friends return to Syria to fight and funding their guerrilla campaigns via social media app Telegram.
He put down £4,000 on a plot of land just outside of Barcelona where he wanted to build a retreat for wounded fighters.
While Burke was out in the Middle East, on 22 May 2017 Salman Abedi,22, ran into the Manchester Arena and blew himself up killing 22 Ariana Grande fans.
Pictures show Burke in Syria with body armour on, wearing a stitched Union Jack Flag, and a ‘I heart Manchester’ sign.
Burke, formally of Manchester was charged with two counts of preparing for acts of terrorism under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.
He was also charged with funding terrorism under Section 17 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
The charges against him were thrown out today (Fri).
Mr Justice Sweeney entered not guilty pleas on behalf of the defendants.
All three men appeared over video link at the Old Bailey.
Paul and Samuel were on bail while Burke was recently granted unconditional bail.
Richard Thomas, representing Paul Newey said:
‘He was a harding working man. He has been villified in this country and abroad.
‘He has been threatened and has suffered financial damage to his personal working life.
‘The court is at the very least entitled to hear a detailed explanation.’
Andrew Hall representing Samuel said:
‘They have suffered separately.’
Both men were awarded a travel costs order of £100 each.
A further hearing will be listed for argument over whether the court is entitled to a greater level of explanation from the prosecution for why they dropped the case.
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