A rabbi has warned that sharing anti-Semitic material online could see members of the Jewish community become more reclusive.

Maurice Michaels, rabbi of Bournemouth Reform Synagogue, praised a judge who jailed a man for the content he had shared on social media.

Gareth Anthony Brett found himself in the dock at Bournemouth Crown Court after he posted material on Twitter and Telegram which was anti-Semitic and against anyone perceived to be non-Aryan and non-European.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of publishing written material to stir up racial hatred.

Brett, 35 and of previously of Loch Road, Parkstone, was jailed for 12 months by Judge Robert Pawson, stating that the seriousness of the case could only be reflected with immediate custody.

Rabbi Michaels told the Daily Echo: “I applaud the judge for the seriousness with which he gave this case.

“This sort of behaviour cannot be allowed. I accept this is a person who may have been affected by Covid and lockdown, nevertheless, many people were affected by it and they did not find their way to right-wing extremism.

“What worries me, even more, is he had 2,000 followers (on Twitter).

Bournemouth Echo: Rabbi Maurice MichaelsRabbi Maurice Michaels

“There are no doubt a lot of other people out there who have been influenced similarly by right-wing extremism and this sort of thinking.”

Rabbi Michaels said there is a small Jewish community in the conurbation and the congregation had always played its part in the “best way we possibly can in many different ways”.

“We work together with all faith groups to try to ensure that we have a community which respects each other’s views,” he said. “We do not always have to agree but we respect each other. We are trying to come together for the benefit of society as a whole.”

Discussing the impact actions like Brett's can have on Jewish people, Rabbi Michaels said: “This sort of thing means there will be some people in the Jewish community who say 'maybe we should just sit back and not put ourselves out there and not be so open' – that is the wrong thing to do.

“We need to continue to work together in order to ensure the community is aware of what we do and who we are.”

Detective Sergeant Adam Woolman, of Counter Terrorism Policing South West, said: “We take all reports of hate crime seriously and are committed to bringing offenders to justice.

“This was an intelligence-led investigation, which allowed us to identify Brett as the person publishing the written material.

“I hope this case sends out a very clear message that hate crimes of this nature are not tolerated online.

“If you are a victim or witness of a hate crime or incident, please report it to Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk. Alternatively, if you wish to speak to someone, call 101. In an emergency always dial 999.”