Police raids prevented 18-year-old setting off homemade explosive device in a public space, supreme court told
The 18-year-old, who cannot be named, had ‘every intention’ of using in Melbourne the pipe bombs he was making, Justice Lex Lasry said. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP
Australian Associated Press
Wednesday 7 December 2016 04.53 GMT
Last modified on Wednesday 7 December 2016 07.25 GMT
A teenager who was preparing to set off a homemade bomb in a crowded part of Melbourne’s central business district has been jailed for seven years for the foiled terror plot.
A judge said the 18-year-old, who cannot be named, had “every intention” of using the partially constructed pipe bombs found in his home, and the only reason he didn’t go through with his plot was that he was arrested.
The devices the teenager was making were similar to those that killed and maimed people in the Boston marathon terror attacks, according to the FBI.
The youth will be eligible for parole after serving five years and three months, and has already spent more than 570 days in custody.
He admitted five boxes of screws found in his bedroom had been stockpiled for use as shrapnel. Other items, including a pressure cooker and encrypted documents entitled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom” and “Pressure cooker backpack bomb with switch detonator”, were also seized when police raided his home in May last year.
The bomb-making manuals set out in “alarming detail” how to construct and use a viable explosive, the court heard. They go on to urge that the bomb should be placed in a crowded area and camouflaged with cardboard that would not inhibit their detonation.
The password protecting the documents’ encryption was Arabic for “Islamic State forever”.
Victorian supreme court Justice Lex Lasry said the offending was at the “apex of seriousness” when he sentenced the youth on Wednesday.
The teen pleaded guilty to obtaining documents relating to an improvised explosive device and partially constructing an improvised explosive device (IED) in preparation for a terror act, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
“You were part way through the construction of several pipe bombs,” Justice Lasry said. “Your plan until it was interrupted by police was to build a bomb and detonate it. Had you not been arrested you would have killed and injured innocent people.”
In the lead-up to his arrest, the teenager had come to support Isis and its “campaign of lies”, Lasry said. He had been in frequent contact with UK jihadist Junaid Hussein who was urging him to carry out an attack in Melbourne.
Hussein was party to a planned terror attack in London in 2013 and is believed to have been killed in Syria in August last year.
Correspondence between the two shows the teenager planned to detonate an IED in either the central business district, a police station or a train.
“You thought it was what God wanted of you,” Lasry said. When police thwarted the teen’s plot, he took that as a sign from God.
Lasry noted the teenager’s family was supportive – some members cried throughout the sentence hearing – and he accepted the 18-year-old’s attitude to Isis had changed.
Lasry recommended that as much as possible of the 18-year-old’s non-parole period be served in a youth justice centre and that he not be kept in proximity to prisoners serving sentences for similar crimes or violent offenders.