A teenager in Cardiff, Wales, has been sentenced to 11 years in custody for plotting a terror attack to coincide with Justin Bieber’s concert held in the Welsh capital.
Rolling Stone reports that 17-year-old Lloyd Gunton of Llantrisant, Wales, received the stiff sentence after being found guilty in November of planning an attack at Bieber’s concert weeks after the terror attack at Ariana Grande’s show in Manchester. Gunton was apprehended by police before he was able to carry out his deadly plan.
“It is not possible to estimate how many people would have been murdered or seriously injured by your actions as the attack was foiled before you could undertake it,” Judge Mark Wall told Gunton after sentencing Gunton. “I am sure that you planned not just the killing of one person but rather mass murder.”
Gunton’s attorney asked for leniency due to Gunton’s autism diagnosis, but the judge didn’t feel this was an excuse. “Yours is not a condition from which you will recover,” said Wall. “It is important that, having been tempted to commit a serious offence such as this, you are under some form of supervision for the rest of your life.”
According to Entertainment Weekly, Gunton was detained by police on June 30, the same day Bieber was scheduled to perform at the city’s Principality Stadium.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that the teenager had searched online for details about the venue’s security procedures, while a police search of his backpack revealed a claw hammer, kitchen knife and “martyrdom letter” in which he declared himself “a soldier of the Islamic State.”
In his testimony, the boy insisted he never planned to execute attack, and that he “never thought about actually” following through.
“I wanted to see how easy it was for people who had an interest in terrorism to go online and get information because the police and the government are trying to crack down on terrorism and radicalization,” he said. “I wanted to see if it was possible, not for me but from someone else’s point of view.”
The prosecutor, however, did not buy his argument: “This teenager’s behaviour over many months leaves no doubt that he intended to kill and maim as many people as possible in an attack reminiscent of the incident on Westminster Bridge,” said Sue Hemming of Wales’ Crown Prosecution Service. “The CPS presented overwhelming evidence that he was prepared to die for [an] extremist worldview and he will now rightly face the prospect of a substantial prison sentence.”