Teenager sectioned for haul of explosive chemicals

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A 16-YEAR-OLD boy who fantasised about carrying out an attack on a school and admitted having explosive chemicals has been made the subject of a hospital order by a judge.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to three charges at a hearing at Birmingham Magistrates Court. He admitted having 20 manuals, including a book on how to make Semtex, contrary to the anti-terrorism laws, and possessing two of the three chemicals needed to make a simple explosive, in breach of the Explosives Act.

District Judge Howard Riddle was told that the youth was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome shortly after his arrest in February 2012. The condition caused him to become fixated on certain topics, according to consultant child psychologist Dr John Brian. He was later sectioned under the Mental Health Act and has been receiving treatment for his condition.

The teenager came to the attention of British police when agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation passed on an alert to Metropolitan Police. They received the alert from a web user in the US about comments about a school massacre the boy made in an online chat room, said prosecutor John Topping.

In a chat room entitled How Magnets Work, the boy said “20 minutes from now I am going to storm a high school armed with a Magnum [handgun] and a Berretta [pistol]”. He would “shoot until the police arrive and then shoot himself”. The teenager also posted pictures of himself on a website posing with imitation guns, one of which made reference to a high school.

The boy kept a book written with his own “notes about plans to kill pupils at school”, including a plan of where people sat at their desks and who should be shot, said Mr Topping. Research the boy had undertaken on a computer in his bedroom at home in Northamptonshire, where he lived with his parents, also uncovered an interest in serial killers and guns.

But while the boy was initially deemed a risk by doctors straight after his arrest, the court heard from his father, who said his son had “never been physically aggressive”. Dr Brian echoed that observation.

Dr Brian said the boy was diagnosed with Asperger’s which, untreated, could lead to anxiety and a fixation with particular topics. Asked by Mr Topping if the boy is a risk to the public, Dr Brian said the risk assessment carried out when the teenager was first seen by doctors shows that “he was a risk, yes”.

Dr Brian said the boy was “academically good” and was working towards his GCSEs while being treated in a secure hospital, and that with further help he is “optimistic” that the boy could become a useful member of society once again. The boy told him that “none of it would have happened” and expressed regret at what he had done.