A teenager has appeared in court accused of planning a gun and bomb attack on a Newcastle college.
Police raided the home of Liam Lyburd, 18, on Monday after a tip-off about comments made on social media and said that they had foiled a planned attack on the college he used to attend.
An Army bomb disposal team was called in and 50 people were moved from their homes near St James’ Park football stadium, in the west end of Newcastle, after the discovery of the weapons.
Northumbria Police said that its investigation suggested there was “intent to cause serious harm at Newcastle College”, whose former students included entertainers Ant and Dec and the comedian Ross Noble.
“I don’t believe that there is any political or religious ideology involved – I am treating it as a criminal act,” Chief Constable Sue Sim told reporters late on Wednesday before Mr Lyburd was named and charged with any offence.
The teenager was charged with possessing a Glock pistol, bullets and a pipe bomb with intent to endanger life and appeared in court yesterday where he spoke only to confirm his name and address during the short hearing. He will next appear before Newcastle Crown Court on 20 November.
Newcastle College – which has some 20,000 students – said Mr Lyburd had been a student at the college for about five weeks during 2012 on a general studies course.
Principal Carole Kitching said: “I would like to reassure staff, students and their families that their safety has been paramount to us and the college remains a safe place to study.
“Officers will be on patrol around the campus to offer reassurance, and anyone who is concerned can speak to an officer or contact the college’s welfare team.”
“People should attend the college as usual. We have an extensive network of CCTV cameras monitoring key areas inside buildings and across the campus, and our security staff are on duty 24 hours a day.”
Mr Lyburd’s arrest comes in the week that a 16-year-old was given a life sentence after admitting murdering the Leeds teacher Ann Maguire after stabbing her seven times in the back and neck.
The judge said that Will Cornick – who had expressed no remorse for killing the popular teacher – would serve at least 20 years and might never be released from custody.