'Abhorrent' attack on synagogue backfires on white supremacist

Remarkable footage of a white supremacist setting himself on fire during an arson attack on a synagogue has been released by police.

Tristan Morgan, 51, was handed an indefinite hospital order on Friday for the anti-semitic attack in the southwest English city of Exeter in July 2018.

In the CCTV of the incident, Morgan can be seen walking to a window of the synagogue before smashing it with a hammer.

He returns with a jerry can and begins to cover the inside of the synagogue with fuel.

Morgan can be seen pouring fuel into the synagogue. Source: Devon and Cornwall Police

He then lights the petrol, which causes a giant explosion and sends Morgan stumbling backwards as his cap flies off.

Engulfed by a huge ball of fire, a stunned Morgan staggers off with his hair alight.

Getting his bearings together, he eventually pats out the fire on top of his head and flees the scene in a white van.

Morgan’s sentence, which included a 10 year terrorist notification order, means that he will be subject of long-term monitoring by the police and partners.

The fire shoots out of the building. Source: Devon and Cornwall Police

Superintendent Matt Lawler, the Local Policing Commander for Exeter, East & Mid Devon said it was evident from the footage that the incident was planned.

‘Sheer chance’ no one was hurt

“The footage, which was played in open court, shows the level of planning, determination and intent by Morgan, whom the wider evidence clearly showed held abhorrent extreme right-wing, anti-Semitic, and white supremacist views,” he said.

“It is only by sheer chance that the synagogue was empty and indeed that Morgan himself sustained only minor burns.”

Morgan stumbles away from the blaze. Source: Devon and Cornwall Police
Tristan Morgan. Source: Cornwall and Devon Police

Superintendent Lawler said the response towards the Jewish community from the incident was commendable.

“When this occurred last year, the public, civic leaders and faith groups all came together to send a positive message of tolerance and support which has been appreciated by the Jewish community not only in Exeter, but around the world,” he said.

President of the synagogue, Richard Halsey echoed Superintendent Lawler’s sentiments.

“We sincerely thank the local police for their brilliant response and for their thorough investigation and support since the traumatic events of last year,” Mr Halsey said.

“In particular we wish to highlight how the community of Exeter has come together to demonstrate the genuine positivity in our city.”

Mr Halsey said the synagogue, which is the third oldest in the UK, was reopened in October following the incident.

“We are now back in our home, and it is as special as it has always been.”

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