A young man, said to be obsessed with weapons, has been jailed for 15 years for planting a home-made bomb on a busy Tube.
The home-built device, that was made using a £2 clock from Tesco, was put together by a former altar boy after he read an online Al Qaeda article entitled ‘Make A Bomb In The Kitchen Of Your Mom’, reports the Daily Mail.
Damon Smith had claimed it was a hoax but the Old Bailey found him guilty of possession of an explosive substance with intent, following his trial.
The 20-year-old defendant, who is autistic, smiled in the dock as the judge sentenced him to 15 years in a young offenders’ institution, and will also serve an extended period of five years on licence.
Judge Richard Marks QC said that although Smith had an interest in Islam, he was not motivated by terrorism.
Quite what your motives were and what your true thinking was in acting as you did is difficult to discern with any degree of clarity or certainty.
Whatever the position, the seriousness of what you did cannot be overstated, not least against the background of the fear in which we all live from the use of bombs here and around the world, an all too timely reminder of which were the events in Manchester earlier this week.
On the morning of October 20 2016, a 19-year-old Smith, packed his rucksack with explosives and deadly ball bearing shrapnel as he headed to college in Holloway, North London.
CCTV caught him on the Jubilee Line, leaving the bomb on the floor, that was timed to go off within minutes, but thankfully, passengers that were in the carriage, spotted the abandoned rucksack and alerted the driver.
Initially the driver dismissed the package as lost property, but while on his route he noticed wires coming out of the bag.
Upon his arrest by counter-terrorism officers, Smith admitted making the bomb but claimed he only meant it to spew harmless smoke as a Halloween joke.
A search of Smith’s home in Rotherhithe, south London, revealed his fixation with guns, explosives and other weapons.
Police also uncovered torn-off scraps of shredded paper with bomb-making instructions and a ‘shopping list’ of components.
Smith told police he was interested in Islam but denied being an extremist even though he posed next to an image of the Brussels-born Islamic terrorist alleged to have masterminded the attacks in Paris in November 2015.
In his defence, extracts of a psychiatric report were read out confirming an autism spectrum disorder.
The court heard that experts were divided over Smith’s future risk to society.
The judge pointed out that the defendant, who showed a lack of empathy, had constructed other devices before planting one on the Tube, and concluded that Smith was a dangerous offender.
He told him:
I am influenced by your history of preoccupation with weapons and bombs as well as by your condition which makes it difficult for you to empathise with others and to understand and fully appreciate the very serious potential consequences of your actions, as this incident amply demonstrates.