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Bomb trial teenager Liam Lyburd tells of Hollywood Heist 'obsession'

Published 27/07/2015

Liam Lyburd is on trial at Newcastle Crown Court
Liam Lyburd is on trial at Newcastle Crown Court

A teenager accused of plotting mass murder at his former college told a jury he amassed a kill bag of deadly weapons in his bedroom because it was "Halloween and everyone was buying costumes".

Liam Lyburd, 19, said he was an internet troll and notes he wrote about plans to carry out an attack at Newcastle College were just an attempt to get people's attention because he was lonely.

Giving evidence in the witness box, he said he was taking six-and-a-half Valium tablets a day for his anxiety when he was arrested in November at the home he shared with his mother and sister.

He told Newcastle Crown Court he would have found it "impossible" to launch an attack on his former college because he hated to go outside.

Lyburd, who also called himself Felix Burns, has pleaded guilty to nine charges relating to making five pipe bombs, two home-made explosive devices, possessing a 9mm Luger Calibre Glock gun, 94 jacketed hollow point expanding bullets and CS gas.

He denied eight charges of possessing those items with an intent to endanger life.

Lyburd said he was obsessed by the 1997 film Hollywood Heist, which was based on real events.

Anne Richardson, defending, asked him why he had got the bag with the weapons in his bedroom when police, acting on a tip-off, raided his home near St James's Park, Newcastle.

The softly-spoken defendant replied: "It was just Hollywood Heist. It was an obsession."

Miss Richardson asked: "What were you going to do with them?"

He said: "It was around Halloween and everyone was buying costumes."

He admitted he wrote a Facebook message which paid tribute to an American High School shooter who murdered classmates because he wanted to get a reaction. "I was trolling people, I knew people would get p****d off by that," he told the court.

He said the idea was "childish".

He denied having any intention of killing people with the weapons.

Lyburd would spent the whole day on his computer in his bedroom and would get pizzas delivered to the house buying the food with other people's Paypal accounts, the jury heard.

A trip in 2012 to New York with his sister and mother was spent in the hotel room, he said. Miss Richardson asked: "What did you do?"

He replied: "Watched telly. I didn't want to leave the hotel room."

And he explained: "I didn't want to go really.

"I went for my mum and my sister. I don't like to be around people."

When he was arrested, it had been "months" since he went outside, the court heard.

Wearing grey track pants and a grey sweatshirt, and with curly brown hair, Lyburd had to be reminded by the judge to keep his voice loud enough for the jury to hear.

He said he wrote a note titled NewcastleCollege, which was recovered by police after he tried unsuccessfully to delete from his computer and which explained why he planned a deadly attack on the institution, with the intention of causing panic.

His intention was to post it on Facebook, leave it up for three hours, then close his account down.

"I wanted people to panic a little bit," he said. "I wanted people to be tearing their hair out, thinking I was going to do it."

He added: "I was trolling people on the internet."

He said it was childish and immature.

Asked why he posed for pictures handling his Glock firearm, dressed in overalls and a mask, he said it was around Halloween.

"I wasn't going to go out trick or treating, I thought I would post some pictures."

Miss Richardson closed her questioning by asking: "Having amassed those items, the weapons and explosives found in your bedroom, did you intend to kill people?"

Lyburd replied: "No."

Earlier, the jury heard how Lyburd told police he made money by hacking into paedophiles' computers and making them pay a ransom.

Lyburd told detectives after his arrest how he would find his targets on teenage chat rooms and trick them into downloading a virus which then encrypted files on their computers.

They would be told to make a payment to an online account before the encyption was removed from their files, he told police.

In three months, Lyburd claimed to have made 50 bitcoins - the online currency which was worth around £300 at the time - from the scam.

The trial continues tomorrow.

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