Lloyd Gunton, a 17-year-old who made plans to commit a terrorist attack at a concert featuring pop sensation Justin Bieber, has received a life sentence. It will be at least 11 years before there is even the possibility of parole.
Lloyd was arrested on June 30th of 2017.
The young man researched security for the aforementioned concert in Cardiff, and he also wrote a suicide—or martyrdom—letter. On the day of the concert, police searched Lloyd’s home, which is located in south Wales; in addition to a claw hammer, law enforcement found a gutting knife.
In the martyrdom letter, Lloyd stated that he considered himself a “soldier” for the Islamic state, adding that he was attacking Cardiff —the capital of Wales—because the government continues to bomb targets in Iraq and Syria. He also pledged in the letter that there will be more attacks in the future.
Court jurors were told that Lloyd had written a note. Bullet points from that note included instructions to strike infidels “in the neck” and run down non-believers with a car. Infidels, according to that note, are those who “oppose Allah”.
The teenager from South Wales denied planning a terrorist act. He also denied other charges. There were two charges of possessing an ISIS-related magazine as well as two charges of encouraging terrorism online.
Lloyd, who suffers from an autism spectrum disorder, told the Birmingham Crown Court jury that he was curious about ISIS, but did not intend to carry out any sort of terrorist attack. He also claimed to have an interest in the gory, which he described as “stupid”.
The teenager, a former A-level student, also claimed that he did not own a copy of the Qur’an; he said that he did not believe in Islam and claimed to eat ham. The boy insisted he was merely curious and wanted to see how difficult it might be for those interested in terrorism to get information online—as the government is cracking down on terrorism and trying to prevent radicalization.
His defense attorney compared Lloyd’s interest to those who rubberneck. Curiosity—so the attorney claimed—simply got the better of Lloyd.
The judge, while telling Lloyd that he would be detained at the pleasure of Her Majesty, pointed out that law enforcement found a backpack in his room containing the knife and the hammer—as well as the suicide note. In that note, the judge said, Lloyd called himself a “soldier of ISIS”.
The judge described the contents of the backpack as a “terrorist kit”.
The judge said that the note was written in such a way that it was obviously supposed to be found and read after Lloyd carried out an attack.
The judge also said that it was obvious—based on Instagram posts made by the teenager in both English and Arabic—that Lloyd intended to attack the people of Cardiff. The judge said that it was clear Cardiff was the young man’s target, as there were online searches connected to the Justin Bieber performance.
According to authorities, his social media password was “truck attack”.
As the judge put it, it isn’t possible to estimate just how many could have been murdered or injured had Lloyd’s attack not been foiled prior to the concert.
The judge also stated that he is sure that Lloyd did not intend to kill just one person, but was planning mass murder—and he said that Lloyd’s actions demonstrate a disregard for human life. The judge said that he can’t foresee a time when he will be confident that Lloyd is no longer a danger.
The judge also lifted restrictions that prevented the media from naming Lloyd. While the crown actually opposed Lloyd being named, the judge felt it was in the best interest of the public that his name be made known.
The head of the Wales counter-terrorism unit, Jim Hall, said that Lloyd’s sentence reflects how serious the young man’s actions were, adding that he hopes the sentence will serve as a deterrent to anyone contemplating such actions in the future.
Hall also said that Lloyd’s case also demonstrates the fact young people can gain access to extremist material via the internet, which can quickly lead to radicalization.
Hall urges people with concerns about radicalization to speak to a family, teacher, or law enforcement so that law enforcement can intervene as soon as possible and protect the safety of the public. He added that there is no reason one would get in trouble for reporting their concerns.