Teenagers accused of school plot 'cannot answer prosecution's case'

Two 15-year-old boys accused of plotting to murder pupils and teachers at their school did not take to the witness box because they "cannot answer the prosecution's case", a court has heard.

Monday, 21st May 2018, 5:31 pm
Updated Monday, 21st May 2018, 5:36 pm
Court news

Summing up the case for the prosecution on Monday, Paul Greaney QC claimed that the teenagers' alleged plans to "shoot up" their school in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, amounted to "real-life intent" rather than "childish fantasy".

During his speech at Leeds Crown Court, he claimed that the older of the two defendants had "revelled" in the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, which saw 12 students and a teacher killed.

Mr Greaney claimed that the teenagers who were responsible for that attack, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, had left clues as to what was to come, such as internet searches for weaponry and, on Harris's part, a journal "espousing a far right-wing ideology".

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Parallels were drawn with evidence that was found in relation to the two friends, including a diary written by the older of the pair which reflected a "homicidal state of mind".

Questioning why the boys had not come up to the witness box, Mr Greaney told jurors: "It is obvious that the prosecution case against each of the defendants is sufficiently strong to call for an answer from them, and there is no sensible reason for them not to give evidence other than that they cannot answer the prosecution's case."

Discussing what he would have asked the older of the two boys, he said: "Why did you write in your diary that you wanted to carry out a school shooting if that's not what you intended?

"Why did you write about being 'godlike' if that's not how you see yourself?

"Why, we would have asked, did you tell the police that you were disgusted by the Columbine massacre when actually you revelled in it?"

The court had previously heard how the younger of the two defendants had said during a police interview that, in contrast to his friend, he had no genuine intent to carry out a shooting.

The boy also claimed that he had informed another classmate and a teacher in a bid to stop his co-accused proceeding with the plan.

However, Mr Greaney told the jury how the same boy had made "clear and unvarnished confessions" that he was central to the alleged plot, such as telling a girl details of the "secret" in September 2017.

"Perhaps it would be argued on behalf of (the younger defendant) that he would not have talked about it if the plan was real, but history is loaded with examples of such loose talk to people who did not believe it to be real or did not know what to do," the prosecutor said.

He added: "If what (the boy) is saying is true and he wanted it all to come out, why did he describe it as a 'secret'?"

The defendants, who were 14 at the time of the alleged offences, deny a joint charge of conspiracy to murder, as well as alternative charges of intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence and encouraging or assisting an offence believing it would be committed.

The older boy denies unlawful wounding and aggravated burglary.