Friday 28 July 2017

Former altar boy planted DIY bomb made with €2 Tesco clock on train

Stock picture
Stock picture

Emily Pennink

A weapons-obsessed student is facing years behind bars for planting a home-made bomb on a busy Tube train.

Former altar boy Damon Smith built the device at home with a £2 (€2.30) clock from Tesco after finding an online al Qaida article entitled Make A Bomb In The Kitchen Of Your Mom.

Smith, 20, claimed it was a hoax but was found guilty of possession of an explosive substance with intent following a trial at the Old Bailey.

The autistic defendant, who smiled in the dock, will be sentenced by Judge Richard Marks QC later.

On the morning of October 20 last year, Smith, then aged 19, packed a rucksack with explosives and deadly ball-bearing shrapnel as he headed to college in Holloway, north London.

He was caught on CCTV as he travelled on the Jubilee Line, casually flicking through a text book before getting off and leaving the bomb on the floor, timed to go off within minutes.

At least 10 passengers were in the carriage at the time and some of them spotted the abandoned rucksack and alerted the driver.

The driver at first dismissed it as lost property and took it into his cab and carried on towards North Greenwich, jurors were told.

Smith claimed the bomb was a hoax Stock Image: PA
Smith claimed the bomb was a hoax Stock Image: PA

During the journey, he spotted wires coming out of the bag and raised the alarm as he pulled into the station.

Had Smith's bomb worked, it would have exploded just as commuters were being ordered off the platform, the jury heard.

The defendant went on to college and, on returning home in the evening, checked the internet for news of what he had done.

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.

He told police he had been inspired from watching someone on a YouTube channel called Trollstation doing a bomb prank.

A search of Smith's home in Rotherhithe, south London, revealed his fixation with guns, explosives and other weapons.

Police seized a blank-firing self-loading pistol and a BB gun, both bought legally, as well as a knuckleduster and a knife which he showed off in an online video.

Police also uncovered torn-off scraps of shredded paper with bomb-making instructions on it 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.

He had been interested in bomb-making since the age of 10 and said it was "something to do when he was bored".

Smith, who grew up living with his mother in Newton Abbot, Devon, said he had thought about putting a bomb in a park but decided it would be "more funny" to delay train passengers.

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