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Jury considers verdict in case of alleged Islamic State sympathiser from Maidenhead

A jury has retired to consider the case of an alleged terrorist sympathiser from Maidenhead.

Mohammed Choudry, of Laggan Road, stands accused of making a speech in Luton in July 2015 in which he encouraged support for the Islamic State (IS) group.

The 22-year-old, who denies he encouraged support for a proscribed organisation, appeared at the Old Bailey on Wednesday wearing a dark suit and white shirt while Judge Michael Topolski QC began recapping the trial for the jury, which had returned following a Christmas adjournment.

Over the course of about a day-and-a-half, Judge Topolski summarised defence and prosecution arguments, as well as providing advice on points of law, before releasing the group for deliberations yesterday (Thursday) afternoon.

Choudry was arrested at his place of work in Crowthorne on January 21 last year and charged with encouraging support for a proscribed organisation.

He was interrogated by police for three days, but gave no answer to any questions on the advice of his lawyer.

In the speech, which was recorded by an undercover officer, he made reference to a ‘wave’ that must be either joined or drowned under.

In closing arguments, the prosecution had claimed the father-of-one, who admitted he did not vote in elections for religious reasons, held democracy in contempt and and was committed to violent extremism.

The defence, led by Patrick O’Connor QC, said however that IS, the terrorist organisation, had not been referenced at all by Choudry, although he had spoken about the concept of an Islamic state, or caliphate.

It was also argued that suspicion had also fallen on him because of others who had been present at the meeting, and that ‘guilt by association’ did not constitute grounds for conviction.

Addressing the jury, Judge Topolski, who said he had made about 300 pages of handwritten notes over the course of the trial, said: "While we've been together many events have taken place around the world.

"Lives have been lost and it is appropriate to begin by reminding you yet again of something I have already said, that it is what takes place in this courtroom that remains the only material that will form the basis of your verdict."

He also urged the jury to remember in their deliberations that freedom of speech means people are 'entitled to their opinions...even if others find them offensive'.

The trial began on November 14 and was originally expected to last about four weeks.

It followed proceedings held over the summer at which a jury had been unable to reach a decision.

Jury deliberations are expected to continue into next week.

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