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Youth locked up for 15 years for planting home-made bomb on Tube train

Damon Smith built the device at home with a £2 clock from Tesco.

A former altar boy has been jailed for 15 years for planting a home-made bomb on a busy Tube train.

Weapons-obsessed Damon Smith built the device at home with a £2 clock from Tesco after finding an online al Qaida article entitled Make A Bomb In The Kitchen Of Your Mom.

Smith, 20, claimed it was a Halloween prank but was found guilty of possession of an explosive substance with intent following a trial at the Old Bailey.

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Damon Smith (Metropolitan Police/PA)

The autistic defendant smiled in the dock as Judge Richard Marks QC sentenced him to 15 years in a young offenders’ institution with an extended period of five years on licence.

The judge said that although Smith had an interest in Islam, he was not motivated by terrorism.

But he told the defendant: “Quite what your motives were and what your true thinking was in acting as you did is difficult to discern with any degree of clarity or certainty.

“Whatever the position, the seriousness of what you did cannot be overstated, not least against the background of the fear in which we all live from the use of bombs here and around the world, an all too timely reminder of which were the events in Manchester earlier this week.”

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One of the components which Damon Smith used to make a home-made bomb (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Mitigating, Richard Carey-Hughes QC had said it was a tragic case for Smith and his mother.

He said: “This is a difficult climate to ask for mercy for someone convicted of this type of offence. Nevertheless, we do so and we invite my Lord to extend mercy. This case is different. It seems unique and so is this young man.”

The lawyer refuted the suggestion by one psychiatrist that Smith was “indulging in sadistic fantasy”.

Smith was “sorry” for the fear and disturbance he caused and has “learned his lesson”, the barrister said.

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Smith on CCTV (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Mr Carey-Hughes added: “We asked him this morning ‘Would you make another bomb?’ and he said ‘No, never, I don’t want to be in jail’.”

The root cause of Smith’s actions were in his autistic disability, he said.

The court heard that experts were divided over Smith’s future risk to society.

But Judge Marks pointed out that the defendant, who showed a lack of empathy, had constructed other devices before planting one on the Tube.

The trial had heard that Smith packed a rucksack with explosives and ball bearing shrapnel on the morning of October 20 last year.

The college student was caught on CCTV as he travelled on the Jubilee Line, casually flicking through a text book before getting off and leaving the bomb on the floor, timed to go off within minutes.

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Smith was caught on CCTV (Metropolitan Police/PA)

At least 10 passengers were in the carriage at the time and some of them spotted the abandoned rucksack and alerted the driver.

The driver at first dismissed it as lost property and took it into his cab and carried on towards North Greenwich, jurors were told.

During the journey, he spotted wires coming out of the bag and raised the alarm as he pulled into the station.

Had Smith’s bomb worked, it would have exploded just as commuters were being ordered off the platform, the jury heard.

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