Welsh teenager Lloyd Gunton has been handed life behind bars for planning to carry out a terror attack on a Justin Bieber concert in 2017.
The UK judge delivering his sentence told Birmingham Crown Court that police had swooped in when the the 17-year-old was mere “hours away from committing an act of atrocity”.
The court heard how the south Wales teen had researched the security arrangement of Bieber’s concert in Cardiff on June 30th, and had reportedly uploaded “terror-related” images — including photos of Islamic State flags — to Instagram.
One post read: “May Allah bring terrorism to Cardiff on 30th June”.
His search history included research on how to carry out vehicular attacks and how to stab someone to death, along with searched phrases such as “how to create a terror attack” and “what does getting shot feel like?”
As BBC reports, Gunton — a former A-level student who has been diagnosed with autism — was found guilty this week on one charge of engaging in the preparation of a terrorist act, two charges of encouraging terrorism, and another two charges of possessing terrorist information.
His defence argued that he never actually intended to carry out the attack, with the teen telling the court that he “wanted to see how easy it was for people who had an interest in terrorism to go online and get information … I wanted to see if it was possible, not for me, but from someone else’s point of view”.
But Judge Mark Wall QC rejected that claim, pointing to the evidence that police had found a knife and claw hammer in Gunton’s backpack, alongside a bullet-point plan of how to carry out an attack, and what authorities described as a “martyrdom letter”.
“At the time of your arrest you were within hours of committing an act of atrocity on the streets of Cardiff,” the judge said. “It is not possible to estimate how many people would have been murdered or seriously injured by your actions as the attack was foiled before you could undertake it. I am sure that you planned not just the killing of one person but rather mass murder.”
He sentenced Gunton to be detained indefinitely in prison, meaning the teen will serve a minimum of 11 years before being eligible for parole.