A 16-year-old Northamptonshire boy has admitted possessing explosive chemicals and bomb-making books and diagrams.
A 16-year-old boy from Northamptonshire 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 (FBI) 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. Research the boy had 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.
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.”
Speaking after the hearing, Det Chief Insp Mark Behan, from Northampton CID, said: “It has been a little over a year since we began our investigation and I welcome the decision of the defendant to enter a guilty plea.
“Not only has this proven to be a complex investigation for us, it has also had a huge impact on the community in which the defendant lived.
“Throughout the year we have been in close contact with the school the defendant attended, in a bid to keep them and the students who shared classes with him informed of the investigation.
“Clearly, the nature of some of the evidence discovered as part of the investigation caused great concern and so it was vital that we worked closely with the school to ensure students who were featured in the defendant’s diaries received as much support as possible.
“I would like to reassure people in Northamptonshire that we do take their security extremely seriously and this case shows that we can and do act quickly and decisively when required to do so.
“This has been a unique investigation for us, and I must take this opportunity to thank the team of officers involved for their tenacity in what has been an extremely complex piece of work.
“The nature of what we discovered during the course of the investigation, meant we requested the specialist assistance of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, who I must also thank.”
Reporting restrictions set by the court mean the teenager, the school he attended or where he is now residing cannot be reported.