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Man on terrorism charges claims he wanted to ‘commit suicide by cop’

Gabrielle Friel is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

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Friel is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Friel is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Friel is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A man accused of terrorism offences said he was trying to commit “suicide by cop” when he took knives into a college and attacked a police officer.

Gabrielle Friel, 22, told the High Court in Edinburgh he wanted to end his life as he believed he would fail a test.

He said this belief triggered negative thoughts, including memories of being bullied in school and being called a failure, which had led to previous attempts to take his own life.

The accused told the court he thought this method would be a “good way to kill myself”.

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Friel stabbed a police officer at Edinburgh College’s campus in Granton (Jane Barlow/PA)

Friel stabbed a police officer at Edinburgh College’s campus in Granton (Jane Barlow/PA)

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Friel stabbed a police officer at Edinburgh College’s campus in Granton (Jane Barlow/PA)

Friel is accused of having a crossbow, scope, crossbow arrows, a machete and a ballistic vest at various locations in Edinburgh between June 1 and August 16 last year, including his home, a social work centre and a hospital, in circumstances giving rise to the reasonable suspicion that possessing these was for a purpose connected with terrorism.

He is also accused of preparing for terrorist acts by conducting online research in relation to spree killings during this time, particularly those expressing motivation from or affiliation with incels – involuntary celibates.

Friel is said to have “expressed affinity with and sympathy for one incel-motivated mass murderer” and to have expressed “a desire to carry out a spree killing mass murder”.

He denies the charges and gave evidence in his own defence on the fourth day of the trial.

Questioned about an incident at Edinburgh College’s Granton campus in November 2017 when he stabbed a police officer, he said he wanted to commit “suicide by cop”, having researched suicide methods online.

He said he believed he would fail a test and had decided to take his own life – trying to stab himself in his chest and cut his wrists – but could not do it.

“I was feeling depressed and as time goes on, getting nearer and nearer to the day of the test, I knew for a fact that I would have to end my life before that test,” he said.

“Basically that’s the end of the line for me. I researched how to end my life and they said suicide by cops.

“This is a popular … way to die in America because in America cops carry guns and I saw video footage of a body camera that they took and somebody died, basically. I decided that this was a good way to kill myself.”

Friel said he took two kitchen knives into the college.

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Friel told the court about his experiences of bullying at school (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Friel told the court about his experiences of bullying at school (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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Friel told the court about his experiences of bullying at school (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The court earlier heard evidence from a police officer who said as they attempted to restrain Friel he stabbed his colleague and was detained in connection with attempted murder.

Friel told the court he was born in Indonesia but spent most of his life in Singapore before moving to Edinburgh in 2017.

He said school was “terrible” due to being bullied, with his pants being pulled down in primary school and a high school classmate saying if Friel paid him he would help him to take his own life.

Friel said he was also punched and called “useless” and a “failure” every day.

He said he felt he was a “huge burden” to his parents as his grades dropped and he tried to take his own life several times.

Friel said a friend “stabbed him in the back” by refusing to go to lunch with him after moving to a different class, which he described as a “huge betrayal”.

He also said he feels “mistreated” and “picked on” in his family, claiming they were more lenient if his younger brother made mistakes.

Friel told the court he had an interest in guns since primary school and the only place he feels happy is on the internet, spending “almost 24 hours” a day online.

The trial, before judge Lord Beckett, continues.

PA


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