Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland schoolboy accused of bid to buy gun and bomb manual charge

By Nevin Farrell

A schoolboy accused of attempting to acquire a Soviet-era machine-gun is now facing a terrorism charge.

The development came yesterday at Coleraine Youth Court, where the teenager - who was 14 at the time of the alleged offences - was present with his mother and father.

The charge is that on April 6, 2017, the boy had in his possession a document or record containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

It refers to a document entitled Etn.txt, which contained instructions for the making of an explosive substance, Erythritol tetranitrate.

Earlier this year the boy, who cannot be named because he is under 18, was originally charged with attempting to possess the Russian-made PPSh43 sub-machine-gun and 100 rounds of ammunition with intent to endanger life between March 23 and April 7 this year.

A prosecutor told the court that as well as the original charge, three new charges have now been brought.

They are the possession of the explosives document, attempted possession of the PPSh43 sub-machine-gun and ammunition in suspicious circumstances, and attempted possession of the gun and ammunition with intent to endanger life or to cause serious damage to property.

The prosecutor told District Judge Peter King that there were "voluminous papers" relating to the case.

Defence solicitor Derwin Harvey said an application will be made to vary the boy's bail at the next hearing.

The same court heard recently one bail condition banning the boy from using computers was relaxed so he could access the internet to study for his GCSE exams.

Police had said they were willing to agree to the alteration as long as the boy was supervised when accessing the internet.

District Judge Liam McNally had agreed to the relaxation as long as he was under the supervision of teachers or, when at home, under the watch of one of his parents while going online to do homework between the hours of 5pm and 8pm.

In April, when the boy first appeared in court, a police officer claimed the authorities were monitoring an attempt to acquire a firearm through the dark web.

After obtaining covert evidence, an operative was put in place in the Coleraine area and the teen was arrested in a police operation.

The officer alleged the accused had £150 cash on him to buy 100 rounds of ammunition and believed he could further purchase a machine-gun.

She alleged that the accused had said he wanted to acquire the weapon in order to "intimidate" a third party.

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