Boy aged 16 ordered to hospital after admitting possessing explosive chemicals and bomb-making books
Monday 11 March 2013
A 16-year-old boy who fantasised about carrying out an attack on a school and admitted having explosive chemicals has been made the subject of a hospital order by a judge.
The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to three charges at a hearing on Birmingham Magistrates Court.
He admitted having 20 manuals, including a book on how to make Semtex, contrary to the anti-terrorism laws, and possessing two of the three chemicals needed to make a simple explosive, in breach of the Explosives Act.
District Judge Howard Riddle was told that the youth was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome shortly after his arrest in February last year. The behavioural condition caused him to become fixated on certain topics, according to consultant child psychologist Dr John Brian.
He was later sectioned under the Mental Health Act and has been receiving treatment for his condition.
The teenager came to the attention of British police when agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation passed on an alert to Metropolitan Police.
They received the alert from a web user in the US about comments about a school massacre the boy made in an online chatroom, said prosecutor John Topping.
In a chat room entitled How Magnets Work, the boy said: “20 minutes from now I am going to storm a high school armed with a Magnum (handgun) and a Beretta (pistol).
He would “shoot until the police arrive and then shoot himself”.
The teenager also posted several pictures of himself on a website posing with imitation guns, one of which made reference to a high school.
The boy kept a book written with his own “notes about plans to kill pupils at school”, including a plan of where people sat at their desks and who should be shot, said Mr Topping.
Research the boy done on a computer in his bedroom at home in Northamptonshire, where he lived with his parents, also uncovered an interest in serial killers and guns.
But while the boy was initially deemed a risk by doctors who assessed him straight after he was arrested, the court heard from his father who said his son had “never been physically aggressive”, while Dr Brian echoed that observation.
Dr Brian said the boy was diagnosed with Asperger's in February last year which, untreated, could lead to anxiety and a fixation with particular topics.
Asked by Mr Topping if he thinks the boy is a risk to the public, Dr Brian said the risk assessment carried out when the teenager was first seen by doctors shows that “he was a risk, yes”.
Dr Brian said the boy was “academically good” and was working towards his GCSEs while being treated in a secure hospital, and that with further help he is “optimistic” that the boy could become a useful member of society once again.
The boy told him that “none of it would have happened” and expressed regret at what he had done, the doctor also said.
Dr Brian said the boy “told me he thinks it was the biggest mistake of his life” and is “getting better as time has gone on”.
The teenager admitted possessing explosive substances sulphur powder and potassium nitrate between January 1 and February 26 last year.
He also admitted having on his computer, between October 1 2011 and February 26 last year, manuals of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, contrary to section 58(1)(b) of the Terrorism Act 2000.
He also admitted possessing prohibited images of children, in Northamptonshire on February 26 last year.
Sentencing, Mr Riddle handed the boy a hospital order under section 37 of the Mental Health Act, which will run for six months but can be extended.
Mr Riddle told the boy: “We all wish you well for the future.”
After the hearing, Karen Todner, of law firm Kaim Todner which is representing the teenager, said: “Unfortunately my client's diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome has only taken place since his arrest. He and his family were keen to seek medical attention prior to his arrest but it was not provided in time to prevent these offences.
“My client has never harmed anyone or committed any acts of violence. With the correct treatment, he hopes to go on to lead a fulfilling life.”
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