Boy, 15, found not guilty of terror plot

  • Published
Media caption,
One of the homemade videos showed a bottle filled with foil balls exploding in a wardrobe

The youngest person to be tried for a terrorism offence on UK soil has been found not guilty.

The teenager, from Eastleigh, Hampshire, was accused of planning a jihad-inspired terrorist act after becoming "radicalised" by online material.

However his lawyers said he designed and detonated bottle bombs at home while "pretending" to plan harm.

The 15-year-old sobbed when the verdict was delivered at Leicester Crown Court.

Image source, Counter Terrorism Policing South East
Image caption,
Simplistic bomb-related drawings were found at the boy's home

Prosecutors claimed the boy became "mesmerised with the idea of becoming a martyr" when he was 14 after accessing extremist material online early in 2020.

He researched explosives and prepared shrapnel bombs during the coronavirus lockdown, the court heard.

One of his homemade videos showed a bottle filled with foil balls exploding in his wardrobe, the jury was told.

Notes on his phone described "the extinction of the western race", prosecutors said.

Image source, Counter Terrorism Policing South East
Image caption,
The boy filled bottles with shrapnel including foil balls and rusty screws, the court heard

However Mary Prior QC, defending, said the boy was "pretending" rather than preparing to kill people.

She said he was a victim of neglect, "for the most part ignored, living in filth".

"He dared to dream about doing something exciting. He wanted to have followers on YouTube. He wanted to be respected and cool," the barrister said.

The teenager told the court he was in foster care when he was very young and when he returned to the family home his mother's new partner started to abuse him.

He told the jury: "He would hit me with a belt… multiple times… on a daily basis, as a form of discipline."

He said he put a chest rig tactical vest, boxes of matches and igniter cord on his mother's Amazon Saved List to annoy her.

Outside the court, police urged parents to be vigilant about young people's online activities during the coronavirus period.

Det Ch Supt Kath Barnes, head of Counter Terrorism Policing South East, said social isolation "amplifies the effect of harmful material".

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.