A far-right activist has been found guilty of stirring up racial hatred by running an online library of downloadable white supremacist stickers.

Samuel Melia was the head of the Hundred Handers, an anonymous group responsible for a spate of anti-immigration “stickering” incidents between 2019 and 2021, a court has heard.

Melia, 34, who is the Yorkshire organiser for far-right group Patriotic Alternative, went on trial accused of distributing downloadable versions of stickers which were “intended to stir up racial hatred” and encouraging racially aggravated criminal damage.

On Wednesday (January 24), a jury convicted him of both charges after deliberating for more than three hours.

Leeds Crown Court jurors heard that members of the Hundred Handers, known as “hands”, would gain access to a library of stickers, set up by Melia, that they could download, print out and stick up in their local area.

Melia told jurors the stickers were simply intended to “start a conversation” and that he tried to avoid making them “intimidatory”.

He said that the practice of “stickering” was widespread and that it “never occurred” to him that it would be criminal damage.

Opening the case to jurors last week, prosecutor Tom Storey KC said the stickers were used to spread the message that there were people in that area with overtly racist views and attract like-minded people, but also to “warn or intimidate members of non-Christian religions, or those from non-white races, that they were being targeted”.

The prosecutor later said media reports of “stickering” linked to the Hundred Handers in the UK “extended from Cornwall to Northern Ireland” and “may make it clear the incidents have in fact caused fear or alarm”.

Mr Storey said the stickers may have “left people concerned about where it might lead (…) particularly given the rise in hate crimes in recent years”.

Jurors were told Melia was arrested outside a post office in Leeds in April 2021 on suspicion of publishing or distributing material which may stir up racial hatred.

The court heard police searched his house in Pudsey and found a label printer and stickers with slogans.

Jurors were told officers also found “key signs of the defendant’s ideology” including a book by Oswald Mosley, who founded the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s, as well as posters of Mosley and Adolf Hitler.

Mr Storey said the Hundred Handers Telegram channel had over 3,500 subscribers and that a number of photographs had been posted to it of stickers in public locations such as lampposts, vending machines, public toilets, train stations and even on the door of an MP’s constituency office.

Mr Storey said: “Also found within the defendant’s Telegram posts and chat were messages which make clear that he expected that Hundred Handers stickers would be displayed in public places, and also that he had placed stickers in such places himself."

Melia, who described himself as “pro-British or a white advocate” told the court the stickers were intended to be put on street furniture such as lamp posts, benches, bus stops and “places people are waiting”.

Judge Tom Bayliss KC bailed the defendant until his sentencing at the same court on March 1.