Teenager packed rucksack with ball bearers and set timer on Tube, court hears

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A weapons-obsessed teenager wanted to cause carnage in the capital when he planted a homemade bomb on the Tube, a court has heard.

Damon Smith was 19 when he allegedly packed a rucksack with explosives and deadly ball-bearing shrapnel and left it in on a train timed to go off within minutes.

Had the device worked, it would have exploded just as people were being ordered off the Jubilee Line platform at North Greenwich, jurors were told.

The court heard Smith had a keen interest in Islam, guns, explosives and gambling, and collected pictures of extremists, including the alleged mastermind of the 2015 Paris terror attacks.

After he was arrested, the autistic student admitted making the device but claimed he only meant it to spew harmless smoke as a prank.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told how Smith grew up in Newton Abbot in Devon and moved to London with his mother in June last year before starting a London Metropolitan University computer course.

An only child, Smith was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, an autistic condition which can affect the way he interacts with people and result in a lack of empathy.

Before the Tube incident, Smith printed off an al Qaida article entitled "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom" and made notes in green ink before shredding the sheets of paper, jurors were told.

He also allegedly searched the internet for an Islamic State magazine featuring an article about the bomb said to have brought down a Russian airliner in October 2015.

A shopping list for "pressure cooker bomb materials" was also allegedly found on an iPad ending in a note to "keep this a secret between me and Allah #InspireTheBelievers".

On October 20 last year, Smith boarded a train from Surrey Quays to Canada Water before getting on the westbound Jubilee Line, then going back on himself at Southwark.

At 10.49am, the defendant, who had a freedom travel pass, got off at London Bridge leaving behind his rucksack containing the bomb set to explode minutes later at 11.02am.

There were at least 10 passengers in the carriage at the time and some of them spotted the bag and reported it when they got to Canary Wharf.

The driver took the bag thinking it was lost property and carried on towards North Greenwich, Mr Rees said.

It was while he was en route to the next stop that he noticed wire poking out of a clock.

Had the bomb gone off, it would have exploded just as passengers were evacuated from the area, the prosecutor said.

Meanwhile, Smith went to his university campus at Holloway and searched for articles for the incident when he got home later.

Jurors were told of Smith's interest in poker, YouTube, Islam - as well as guns, explosives and other weapons.

On his faith, Smith allegedly told police he was brought up Christian, but Islam was "more true", although he denied being an extremist.

A search of Smith's home in Rotherhithe, south London, uncovered a blank-firing self-loading pistol, a BB gun - both bought legally - as well as a knuckleduster and a knife which he showed off in an online video.

Pictures were also recovered of Smith with guns, including one on a laptop labelled "2016 an Islamic State fighter".

Smith watched YouTube videos on explosions and allegedly posted a picture of himself on Facebook in a Guy Fawkes mask holding handcuffs and a knuckleduster, jurors were told.

He also posed next to an image of the Brussels-born Islamic terrorist alleged to have masterminded the attacks in Paris in November 2015, the court heard.

Smith, now 20, denies possession of an explosive substance with intent, contrary to the Explosive Substances Act 1883 but has admitted the lesser offence of perpetrating a bomb hoax.