A 20-year-old student has been found guilty of planting a homemade bomb filled with ball bearings on the Jubilee Line.
Damon Smith, who was 19 when he left the bomb in a rucksack on the London Underground in 2016 had admitted perpetrating a bomb hoax but pleaded not guilty to possession of an explosive substance with intent.
However, he decided not to give evidence at his trial and was found guilty at the Old Bailey on Wednesday, May 3.
The court heard Smith, who is originally from Devon but had moved to London to study a university computer course, is on the autistic spectrum and has a fascination with weapons.
Although he claimed the bomb was a prank, he had researched bomb-making and radical Islam before he planted his rucksack on the morning of October 20, 2016.
He was captured on camera carrying a holdall as he entered Surrey Quays station shortly after 10.30am.
From there he caught a London Overground train to Canada Water, before switching to a westbound Jubilee line train.
He got off that train and Southwark, before taking another Jubilee line train in the direction he had just come in.
Smith left the train at London Bridge. A passenger saw the abandoned bag and reported it to the driver at Canary Wharf who initially thought it was lost property but raised the alarm after seeing wires and a clock.
A rucksack, being carried inside in the holdall, contained deadly ball-bearing shrapnel due to be triggered by a £2 Tesco clock timer.
At 11am, North Greenwich station was evacuated. The device had been set to detonate at 11.02am.
Smith was arrested in London the next day.
At his home in Abbeyfield Road, Rotherhithe, police found a shredded al Qaeda article on bomb-making.
A shopping list on how to make a pressure cooker bomb was found on his iPad, which ended with the words “keep this a secret between me and Allah #InspireTheBelievers”.
Police also discovered a blank-firing self-loading pistol, a BB gun, a knuckleduster and a knife, which he showed off in online videos.
He also collected pictures of extremists, including the ringleader of the 2015 Paris attacks.
A preliminary sentencing date has been set for May 26.
Head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, Commander Dean Haydon, said: “Throughout this investigation and subsequent trial, Smith claimed his actions were meant as a harmless prank and the object was nothing more than a smoke bomb.
“It is hard to believe that leaving what has been described as an improvised explosive device on a Tube train, on a weekday morning, can be construed as anything but an attempt to endanger life.
“It is fortunate the device failed to work and that no-one was injured.
“At a time when the threat level remains at severe, I find it unlikely anyone would consider his defence as an appropriate excuse for his actions.
“The jury rightly disagreed with him and I expect Smith will now face a significant prison sentence.”
Head of the British Transport Police’s Specialist Operations, Assistant Chief Constable Alun Thomas, said: “Smith’s unattended bag was spotted by a passenger who brought it to the attention of staff, who in turn contacted police.
“This highlights the importance of being vigilant when travelling on the railway network, and reporting anything suspicious.
“British Transport Police, along with our partners at the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police, regularly train and prepare for incidents such as this and were able to respond swiftly with their specialist skills.
“It is very fortunate that in this incident the device failed to work, was safely contained, and no-one was injured.
“We are pleased the jury returned a guilty verdict and hope the sentence will demonstrate actions like Smith’s have very serious consequences and are never ‘a harmless prank’.”
To contact the confidential anti-Terrorist Hotline call 0800 789 321. In an emergency, call 999.
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