• 20 July 2018
Related Topics
  • Columbine High School massacre
Thomas Wyllie and Alex Bolland Image copyright North East Counter Terrorism Unit
Image caption Thomas Wyllie and Alex Bolland said they would eliminate students who were "infecting the gene pool"

Two teenage boys who plotted a Columbine-style shooting at a school have been detained.

Thomas Wyllie and Alex Bolland, both 15, planned to shoot and kill pupils and teachers at the school in Northallerton, North Yorkshire.

Wyllie was handed a 12-year custodial sentence while his co-defendant was given 10 years.

The teenagers, who were 14 at the time, were found guilty of conspiracy to murder at Leeds Crown Court in May.

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Jurors heard they were motivated by their "worship" of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who killed 13 people and themselves at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999.

Image copyright NECTU
Image caption Items including petrol, a bag of screws and a balaclava were found in an abandoned shed used by the boys as a hideaway

Following their arrests in October 2017, both boys tried to claim the Yorkshire plot was nothing more than a fantasy.

But sentencing the pair, Judge Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said it was a "firm plan with specific targets in mind" using "indiscriminate explosives".

She described the pair's friendship as "a noxious relationship", adding "those two saw themselves as anti-heroes, with the power to choose who lives and who died."

The judge concluded Wyllie and Bolland intended to cause "terror on the scale of the school shootings that have been seen in America".

Image copyright NECTU
Image caption Wyllie wrote in his diary about his desire to carry out an attack

Prosecutors said Wyllie, who was described as the ring-leader, was motivated by a "far right-wing" and "twisted ideology" which he had discussed in a diary - along with a desire to carry out a school attack.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb described his journal entries as "desperately sad words" for a boy with a family.

The pair downloaded bomb-making manuals, researched weapons online and had drawn up a "hit-list" of targets that included students who had bullied and wronged them, as well as teachers.

Wyllie also had a rucksack filled with screws, boards and flammable liquid that he kept in a secret hideout in Catterick Garrison. Prosecutors suggested they were instruments for making an explosive device which was to be used in the plot.

Image copyright North East Counter Terrorism Unit
Image caption Detectives recovered messages between the pair plotting the shooting, while another chat revealed Bolland telling a friend "no-one innocent will die"

The jury heard Wyllie told a female friend he wanted to become a "natural born killer".

In court, the girl's mother described him as "primitive, devious and controlling".

The boys were interviewed by police after Bolland, who was bullied at school, messaged a friend in September 2017 to tell her about the plan.

In the message, he claimed he and Wyllie were doing a "service to society" and would eliminate students who were "infecting the gene pool".

The next day, Bolland made "clear and unvarnished confessions" to a teacher and to police officers.

In a series of message exchanges, Wyllie told Bolland: "If you're gonna kill yourself, shoot up the school."

Prosecutor Paul Greaney QC told the court the bullying suffered by Bolland was a motivation for the attack and said the pair "were driven by a desire for revenge".

Image caption Police searched a number of locations in Northallerton when the teenagers were arrested and a secret hideout was found by officers

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Two UK school boys sentanced after 'columbine-style' terror attack