Belfast Telegraph

Fears raised over mental state of self-confessed narcissist who plotted to kill Prince Harry

By Chris Kilpatrick

Mark Townley is the serial con artist who went on to become the unlikeliest of jihadists.

Townley was brought up in Bangor, Co Down - not exactly renowned as a hotbed for Islamist fundamentalism.

Heavily tattooed and bearded Townley, who changed his name by deed poll to Ashraf Islam, was jailed for three years after confessing to a bizarre plan to murder Prince Harry.

Yesterday's court was told that in May 2013, "the self-confessed narcissist", then calling himself Islam, walked into a police station in London and told officers that he was "making a plot to kill his Royal Highness Prince Harry".

The 32-year-old father-of-two was jailed at Isleworth Crown Court last year and had been serving his sentence in a London prison until a recent transfer to Maghaberry Prison.

He was due to be released within weeks.

Confessing his Prince Harry plot - which he'd named Operation Regal - Townley told police he wanted to kill the young royal because he "had blood on his hands".

A document found on his computer read: "Aim for target. No civilians to be injured. Dress code is the biker look.

"Use low-calibre pistol at close range.

"Not to be viewed as Islamist extremist."

Police also discovered a number of internet searches showing Townley had been researching Prince Harry's protection team, his royal engagements and his general whereabouts. He had been watching Horse Guards Parade and planned to disarm an officer while disguised as a tourist. In the end, he said he didn't go through with the murder bid because he felt "scared and nervous".

A judge described his plot as "vague and unlikely to succeed".

The latest fraud convictions mean he is likely to remain in prison.

In court yesterday, prosecutor Peter Magill said that when arrested, Townley "didn't hide what he had done".

Defence barrister Luke Curran said Townley was suffering from a number of mental health issues at the time he had committed the fraud offences and had also been diagnosed as being bipolar.

Mr Curran added that there was no evidence he "had lived a luxury lifestyle or benefited financially'' from the fraud.

Judge Patricia Smyth said she required time to consider a number of medical reports into Townley and adjourned sentencing until later this week.

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