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I’m fighting for what I believe in and that is the future of my country, my folk, my race.’Shocking and despicable as these words were to his grandparents, there was a more personally hurtful revelation to come.Because Stables has since tried to pin the blame for his hateful beliefs on the loving grandparents who helped his single mother to raise him.‘That’s really when he became very oppositional, especially to people in authority.’He was suspended several times and finally expelled from Furness Academy aged 16, after holding a hacksaw to another pupil’s throat in a fit of temper.Excluded from mainstream school, Ethan — who claimed he was a victim of bullying — was educated by Home and Hospital Tuition, a council-run service.Other parents would reproach her over how ‘naughty’ he was and teachers at his nursery raised concerns.Aged five, Ethan put a plastic bag over his head and told a teacher he wanted to die. It was as if he’d been born with a self-destruct button.‘On the beach he’d be playing like a happy little boy, then get a handful of sand and throw it in your face for no reason at all... His eyes would go dead and there was no reaching him.’For years the Stables fought to get help for Ethan.
He went to live with his father and stepmother instead, but that arrangement didn’t work out. Another time he ended up in hospital with a broken arm after falling 30ft from a building, showing off in front of mates as he tried to copy free-runners he had seen online doing death-defying leaps.
His defence barrister, Patrick Upward QC, claimed that Stables, who denied all the charges, was a ‘fantasist’ rather than a ‘white supremacist’ — that his threats were the ‘delusional’ rants of an autistic young man.
Stables, who had Asperger’s diagnosed as a child, told the jury he had been ‘brainwashed’ by far-Right friends he had met in internet chat rooms and only made threats ‘to fit in’ and ‘to look big’.
Married for 48 years, the Stables — a traditional couple who only ever wanted the best for Ethan, whom they describe as a bright but deeply troubled child — look bewildered as they try to make sense of this nightmare.‘If Ethan had ever said to me he was gay or bisexual, it wouldn’t have bothered me at all.
All we’ve ever wanted is for him to be happy,’ says Harry, a catch in his voice.
One photo after another shows them kayaking, camping, rock-climbing, mountain-biking and feeding farm animals, or Ethan dressed up as pirate Captain Jack Sparrow or Indiana Jones.‘He was such a bright little boy,’ sighs Jen, 69.