POLICE found a mini-arsenal of illegal weapons in a raid at the home of a student who had become obsessed with firearms.
Ramsay Scott, 20, a former pupil of Edinburgh's Merchiston Castle School who had shot competitively for Scotland, used his mother's credit card to order components of prohibited guns on the internet.
He turned his bedroom in the family home in Longniddry, East Lothian, into an assembly plant, but denied there was anything sinister about it, even though he had researched the 1987 Hungerford massacre in which 16 people were shot dead.
The High Court in Edinburgh was told yesterday that Scott had always been interested in making things, and simply enjoyed the intellectual challenge of building a fully-functional gun from scratch.
Scott is facing a minimum five years' detention after he admitted a series of offences under the Firearms Act. He was described by a psychiatrist as "odd" and the judge, Lord Uist, called for further reports before sentencing Scott next month. Lord Uist said it was "a most peculiar case".
The court heard that in August customs officers at East Midlands Airport intercepted a parcel from the United States addressed to Scott's mother. It was found to contain the barrel of a Glock pistol, and Lothian and Borders Police were alerted.
Scott, a student of bio-medical sciences who lived at home while not attending Durham University, held a firearms licence for a rifle and silencer, but a Glock pistol was a prohibited weapon.
Police went to his home to carry out a search and Scott confirmed he had firearms not listed on his licence.
He said there were "a lot of items" and officers saw fire-arms, components and ammunition scattered on the floor of his bedroom. Several potentially lethal knives were also recovered.
John Scullion, the advocate-depute, said there were assembled Glock and Sig Sauer pistols, and parts of Colt pistols, Heckler & Koch submachine guns and Custom rifles, as well as illegal "dum dum" bullets, which expanded on impact.
The dining room of the house had been used to manufacture rifle and shotgun cartridges. Scott explained he had found a way of avoiding regulations that prevented manufacturers in the US sending components to him, and had purchased parts for "several rifles and handguns".
Mr Scullion said Scott's computer was examined, revealing it had been used to visit websites showing violence involving firearms. Searches had been carried out for "Michael Ryan" and "Hungerford" and "suicide". In 1987, Ryan shot dead 16 people in the Berkshire town before turning his gun on himself.
David Taylor, the defence solicitor-advocate, said Scott had developed an interest in shooting at school and competed for Scotland at under-19 level.
His growing fascination had become "an obsession with firearms and that whole world" and his mother had allowed him to use her credit card to purchase "at a significant cost" items on the internet. She had thought they were linked to his legitimate interests.
"Notwithstanding the sinister hue that might properly be given to this picture, he maintains his interest was in the mechanics and in the satisfaction derived from simply being able to build these items successfully from scratch, and developing the expertise to do so and succeeding in the task he had set himself," said Mr Taylor.
"He had a long-standing interest in building and making things. It appeared that was what he was particularly good at. It appears that he did not have a great deal of interest in the weaponry once it was assembled.
"While he had an intellectual curiosity about whether the guns were fully functional, he recognised the limits of his expertise. He knew that, if not properly assembled, the gun might explode when used with full ammunition. He fired blank cartridges to see whether they worked.
"He denied in his interview with the police any sinister intention. The police suggested he might supply others, but he denied supplying anybody or showing these things to anyone else. He did not tell anyone else about them."
Mr Taylor said Scott had known that what he was doing was wrong. He had a knowledge of firearms legislation, and Scott had said that his visiting websites connected to Hungerford had been "historical" and primarily due to his interest in the effect there had been on the legislation.