Boys 'planned Columbine anniversary massacre'

Court told teenagers intended killing spree at Manchester school

Two teenagers planned to blow up a shopping centre and then set out on a killing spree at their Manchester school on the 10th anniversary of the Columbine School massacre, a court heard yesterday.

Matthew Swift, now 18, and Ross McKnight, 16, idolised Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Americans who murdered 12 students and one teacher at their Colorado school and injured 21 others before taking their own lives.

Notes found after their arrest revealed that the friends had drawn up plans to detonate an improvised explosive device at a shopping centre in north Manchester and embark upon a killing spree at Audenshaw High School, where Mr McKnight was still a pupil, before killing themselves, Manchester Crown Court heard. "They had discussed, they had fantasised and eventually they had agreed to convert their fantasies into reality," said Peter Wright QC, for the prosecution.

The school friends sat impassively in the dock while listening to the prosecution detail the evidence against them, which included a chilling diary belonging to Mr McKnight. He wrote in November 2007: "In about one and a half years I will fucking kill them with a great big smile on my face."

The diary continued: "I can't fucking wait to do it now, killing the shitheads off, one by one. The best thing is walking around kicking the heads as I walk past, just laughing, ha, ha, ha. We will walk into school and at the end of it no one will walk out alive... after we have finished we will have to kill ourselves there and then."

Mr Wright said the teenagers had also been fascinated by the Oklahoma City bombings carried out by Timothy McVeigh in April 2005, which resulted in the deaths of 168 people. Mr McKnight wrote an essay about the event while at school, the jury heard.

"Little did the school appreciate that he had more than an academic interest," Mr Wright said. Mr McKnight also wrote an essay about a massacre at a school entitled 'Equations of the Mind', which earned him a C grade, the jury heard. After police arrested Mr Swift, officers searched his house and found a manual called The Anarchists Cookbook, which detailed bomb-making techniques, and a safe containing plans of the school, Mr Swift's notes, instructions on using acetone peroxide as a detonator and a tin of table tennis balls (which, the jury heard, could be made into an explosive material).

"Fuck the system or the system will fuck you," Mr Swift wrote. Another entry read: "Audenshaw High will be no more because unlike Columbine my pipe bombs will actually fucking explode and I will walk from classroom to classroom killing the fuck out of everybody, then maybe people will learn," and "Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold will rise again."

Mr Wright told the jury they might conclude that "Matthew Swift is the more articulate" and exerted a "degree of influence" over Mr McKnight, "but in due course they were each fully aware of the terrible act they planned and they were prepared, notwithstanding that fact, to carry it out".

Both defendants deny one count of conspiracy to commit murder and one count of conspiracy to cause explosions between 11 November 2007 and 15 March this year. The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power