Cumbria

Workington terror accused 'lonely attention seeker'

Manchester Crown Court Image copyright Google
Image caption Shane Fletcher spoke about Derrick Bird who carried out a mass shooting in 2010, the court heard

A man who told a probation officer of his plans to go on a killing spree in his home town was a "lonely attention seeker", a jury has heard.

Shane Fletcher, 21, is accused of planning a Columbine-style massacre in Workington, Cumbria, where he said he had suffered years of bullying.

But his lawyer told Manchester Crown Court his client was not a terrorist, but was "incredibly immature".

Mr Fletcher denies possessing bomb-making manuals and soliciting murder.

The court heard he had spoken of "ploughing down" people at Workington's traditional Easter Uppies and Downies event - where thousands take part in street football matches.

'Repellent'

He told his probation officer Lee Cartner he hated Workington and "humanity in general" and had dreamt of shooting at a mosque.

Mr Cartner told the authorities that Mr Fletcher's far-right views made him a potential risk to ethnic minorities.

But Mr Fletcher's barrister Simon Csoka QC reminded jurors that the probation officer was duty-bound to pass such comments on to the police.

He told the court: "You can't intend to do something that you know is going to be stopped."

Mr Csoka suggested Mr Fletcher only mentioned the Uppies and Downies event because of plans to reduce the number of sessions with Mr Cartner and said the defendant was a lonely attention seeker.

'Stupid and idiotic'

The court heard Mr Fletcher had messaged his friend, Kyle Dixon, about the festival and how easy it would be to get a van and plough people down.

But Mr Csoka said in reality it was just "stupid and idiotic" conversations on Facebook Messenger.

"Disturbing, yes. Repellent, yes. But it's a long long way from being sure there was true intent there," added Mr Csoka

Mr Fletcher was arrested at his family home in Wastwater Avenue on 10 March.

Among items seized was his mobile phone, which contained an image of the Columbine killers lying dead on the ground and a diary in which the prosecution say he outlined his intention to commit a massacre, with instructions on how to make a pipe bomb and improvised napalm.

Mr Fletcher, who chose not to give evidence, denies one count of soliciting Mr Dixon to murder and two counts of collecting or making a record of information likely to be useful for terrorism.

The jury has retired to consider its verdicts.

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