A teenager from Lancashire has been sentenced to life in jail for plotting to "massacre" Australian police officers on Anzac Day at the age of 14. The minor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will spend a minimum of five years in detention and is reportedly the UK's youngest convicted terrorist. The teen was arrested on March 25 after his school raised concerns about extreme behavior.
Nicknamed "the terrorist" by classmates, the "organizer and adviser" of the plot pleaded guilty to inciting terrorism abroad at Manchester crown court in July. At a hearing on Thursday, the court heard that the defendant had been radicalized by an online community.
Prosecutors said membership to an online jihadi community served to fill a void that had been caused by problems at school, home, and the defendant's degenerative eye condition. The judge described how the teenager's behavior suddenly changed in 2014, when he first accessed extreme material. Mr. Justice Saunders said: "He communicated with extremist propagandists who either worked for ISIS or supported their aims over the internet. They were experienced recruiters who were keen to enlist young impressionable Muslims to the cause" and managed to "turn him into a deeply committed radical extremist."
The presiding judge said the teen chose Anzac Day to carry out the plot due to "its importance to Australia and its people," reasoning that "it was the day when the killings would have the greatest impact." Prosecutor Paul Greaney QC told the court the plot would have "in all probability resulted in a number of deaths" had it not been thwarted by authorities.
M.r Justice Saunders said the defendant would not be released from jail until he is considered not to be a risk to society. The judge said the teenager "would have welcomed the notoriety that he would have achieved. The revelation in this case that someone of only 14 could have become so radicalized that he was prepared to carry out this role intending and wishing that people should die is chilling."