‘Terror threat’ boy spared custody over synagogue bomb Twitter post
A boy who downloaded manuals for explosives and tweeted that he was a “domestic terror threat” who would “bomb a synagogue” has avoided custody.
The 16-year-old was arrested in Bootle, Merseyside, in 2021 after authorities in the US were alerted to his post.
Liverpool Youth Court heard he had also been pictured doing a Nazi salute and a “white power” symbol.
However, chief magistrate Paul Goldspring said he believed detaining the boy may undo his rehabilitation.
Handing the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, a 12-month referral order, he said a “non-custodial sentence would be in the public interest”.
‘Most appalling behaviour’
The court heard how the boy, who is autistic, was arrested on 28 May 2021 after taking to Twitter to post a message which read: “I am a domestic terror threat. I will bomb a synagogue.”
The hearing was also told he had searched online for “nearest synagogue to me”.
Prosecutor Diana Wilson said on arrest, the boy told his mother the post “was a joke”, but a subsequent search of his devices showed he had downloaded handbooks about weapons.
Ms Wilson said the documents were “lengthy, difficult to obtain, detailed descriptions of how to make bombs”.
She also said the boy had created numerous posts which were anti-Semitic, racist, transphobic, homophobic and reflected an incel ideology.
Defending, Gerard Pitt said the teenager had been introduced to a far-right community after he began playing Fortnite online and had found forming relationships within the video game and on Twitter easier than in his everyday life.
He said the boy also followed some “professional trolls” and began “making his own content” in 2020, sharing messages, documents and online searches, but there was no evidence he had tried to build a bomb and he no longer held the same views.
The boy admitted one count of possessing a document containing information useful to terrorism, two counts of racial hatred by distributing a recording, three of publishing material to stir up racial hatred and one of sending by an offensive message.
Sentencing him, Mr Goldspring said the boy had said “something derogatory” about “virtually every minority group that exists” and had shown “some of the most appalling behaviour by a young person I have seen”.
He said reading the court documents, his “heart sank” at the “scale, scope and nature of your hatred”, but he had decided detaining the boy would be inappropriate and could undo rehabilitative steps he had made.
He added that while he had “struggled greatly with making the decision”, he was of the belief that “a non-custodial sentence would be in the public interest”.