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Jihadi Jack's parents sent him money in Syria knowing it could fund terrorism, court hears

Martin Evans
John Letts and Sally Lane arrive at the Old Bailey  - PA

The parents of a white Muslim convert - dubbed Jihadi Jack - who sent their son money after he travelled to Syria to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), have gone on trial accused of funding terrorism.

John Letts, 58, and Sally Lane, 56, from Oxford, whose son Jack went to the Middle East in 2014, each face three charges in relation to cash they sent him in 2015 and 2016.

The couple deny knowing that the money could be used to fund terrorism, and insist it was only intended to support his welfare.

But opening the case for the prosecution at the Old Bailey, Alison Morgan QC, said there was "every reason for the defendants to suspect that the money sent would or might be used for the purposes of terrorism".

Ms Morgan said while everyone would sympathise with them as parents, the laws preventing the funding of terrorism applied to everybody equally, regardless of their relationship with the recipient.

Addressing the jury of six men and six women, she said: "The defendants are not alleged to be terrorists. They have not been in trouble with the police before. 

"It is not suggested that the defendants supported the ideology or actions of Islamic State in any way, or that they sent the money in order to provide positive support to a terrorist group. 

"However, they sent money to their son, with knowledge or reasonable cause to suspect that it might be used by him or others to support terrorist activity, or that it might fall into the hands of others who would use it for that purpose."

The court heard how Jack Letts, who has a younger brother, grew up in Oxford and converted to Islam at the age of 16.

While his parents initially supported his decision, they did harbour concerns because he had suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder as a child.

Ms Morgan explained that Jack had attended at a mosque on Oxford’s Cowley Road where fellow worshippers described him as being "keen to learn" about the religion.

But in 2014 friends at the mosque became concerned that he was showing signs of becoming radicalised and raised the matter with his parents.

After learning that he intended to travel to the Middle East to fight, one of his Muslim friends pleaded with him not to go. 

But the court was told that despite having concerns that Jack intended to go and fight in Syria, Ms Lane purchased a return airline ticket for her son to travel to Amman in Jordan in May 2014.

The court was told he failed to return as planned and instead travelled on to Kuwait and later Turkey before eventually crossing the border into Syria.

It is alleged that while he was in Isil held territory in Syria and Iraq, Mr Letts and Ms Lane, sent their son three money transfers totalling less than £2,000, despite being aware the cash could fall into the hands of the terrorist group.

Ms Morgan told the jury: "It is inevitable that you will have sympathy for them as parents of a man who took himself to Syria, against their wishes."

But she went on: "The law is focused on the greater good, stopping money flowing into terrorist groups. For that reason the Prosecution will allege that it was not open to these defendants to take the law into their own hands and to send money to their son, whatever their own reasons and motives may have been.

"You will hear evidence which shows that both of the defendants knew where Jack was and who he was associating with. 

"Both defendants also believed that Jack was being manipulated by others. Sending money in such circumstances, where you may conclude that it was highly likely to fall into the wrong hands, is against the law."

Mr Letts and Ms Lane deny three counts of entering into a funding arrangement for the purposes of terrorism and the trial continues.