Teen who planned terror attack warned about sentence breaches

A teenager under close supervision for a terrorist incident has been warned he is facing a possible jail term if he keeps breaching his sentence.

The 19-year-old admitted breaching his sentencing for a third time when he appeared before Judge Stephen O’Driscoll for a monthly judicial monitoring session today.

The nature of the breach has been suppressed until he is sentenced. Two earlier breaches he admitted involved obtaining cellphones – banned under the terms of his sentence – from a family member and used them to look at pornography. The latest breach is different.

Defence counsel Anselm Williams told the court the teenager had had another difficult month and admitted the breach. After a year on the intensive supervision sentence at monitored accommodation, the teenager was struggling with boredom.

He has been out helping at a community project and told the judge that was “pretty good”. The sessions there will continue weekly.

But he is also struggling with anger issues and counselling at the Stopping Violence programme is now being arranged.

The youth has been monitored by Judge O’Driscoll since February 2018 when he admitted planning to carry out the attack on a group of people in public, after converting to Islam and being radicalised online.

He originally planned to ram a car into a group of people and then stab them until the police killed him. He wrote a goodbye letter to his mother and then carried out a violent attack in 2017, making threats and causing damage. But he later told a psychologist that he “decided not to hurt anybody because he did not have the means to kill enough people”.

He admitted charges of wilful damage, shoplifting, threatening to kill or cause grievous bodily harm, and possession of an offensive weapon. The youth has name suppression.

Since the mosque attacks in March, he has said he will never go back to extremism. He told the judge in April: “I’ll never go back to extremist thinking or ideologies. All it does is cause grief, anger, and sadness.”

Today, Judge O’Driscoll warned him that he must not breach the sentence anymore, or he may face resentencing for the original charges. He reminded the teenager that the Crown had originally asked for a five-year jail term.

He said that everyone was trying to help the teenager and he should stop worrying about what others might think about him and concentrate on making progress and getting through to the end of the sentence.

He had to make an effort to deal with his problems with anger and expressing himself.

The teen has now been remanded for another monitoring session on June 5.

All the agencies involved in his sentence will meet on June 26 to discuss his case, and Mr Williams asked for sentencing on the three breach charges to be held over until after that. It would allow a more “constructive” approach to the sentencing options, he said.

A Corrections official told the judge: “We are all in agreement that he needs to get out into the community and get more social interactions going, preferably with people his own age.”

As the session ended, Judge O’Driscoll wished the teenager good luck for the coming months.