UK jury finds student guilty of planting bomb on London Tube

LONDON — A university student with an interest in weapons and extremism has been found guilty of planting a home-made bomb on a busy London subway train.

Damon Smith, 20, faces years in jail after a jury found him guilty Wednesday of building an explosive device at home using a 2-pound ($2.58) clock bought from a supermarket. Smith had Googled an al-Qaida article entitled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.”

He left a knapsack filled with explosives and ball bearings on the subway train in October 2016 while on his way to university. Passengers reported the abandoned bag and gave it to a driver, who noticed wires coming out of the bag and called authorities.

The device failed to explode.

Smith, who has a form of autism, had a fascination with guns and explosives. When searching his south London home, officers found a blank-firing pistol, a BB gun, a knife and a knuckleduster. The computing student had watched explosions videos on YouTube. A picture of Smith recovered on a laptop was labeled “2016 an Islamic State fighter.”

A former altar boy, Smith confessed to an interest in Islam but denied being an extremist. He claimed he left the device on the subway as a prank.

Smith’s lawyer told the jury that his client was no “hate-filled jihadi.” He denied possession of an explosive substance with intent, but admitted the lesser offence of making a bomb hoax.

The jury rejected his explanation. Sentencing was adjourned until May 26 to allow for further psychiatric reports and to assess Smith’s risk to the public.


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