Student Standing Trial For Leaving A Homemade Bomb On The London Underground


A jury heard that a student of computers who has a big interest in various weapons had placed a homemade bomb which contained ball-bearings on the underground in London, which created a big security alarm this past October.

A bomb or a hoax?

Damon Smith was interested in Islam, the court also heard, as well as guns and gambling. He had a collection of pictures of terrorists which included the suspected organizer of the terror attacks that occurred in Paris in 2015.

20-year-old Smith also has Asperger’s syndrome, he was 19 at the time of the incident. After his arrest he stated that his device should have been a smoke bomb which he left on the underground as a prank. However, the prosecution stated that the partially detonated device was manufactured to put lives at risk.

Smith is accused of possessing an explosive substance with intent, contrary to the Explosive Substances Act 1883. He’s on trial at the Old Bailey. He denies the charges but he has confessed to the smaller offence of carrying on a bomb hoax.

Jonathan Rees QC, the prosecutor, told the court on Wednesday at the beginning of the trial that it was Smith’s intent to make a real bomb that would explode and put the lives of those in the underground in danger.

According to Rees, CCTV footage clearly shows Smith leaving a bag on board of a Jubilee line train which had 10 passengers travelling on it, at least.

Right before 11am, passengers saw the bag and told the driver, who thought someone had forgotten it and was planning on giving it to “lost and found”. However, the driver opened it and saw wires coming out of the bag, and that’s when he alerted authorities.

Rees said that the bomb was set to detonate at 11:02 which means it would have hit passengers as they were getting on and off the train. A bomb expert stated that the bomb had charring on some parts, meaning that it had functioned partially.

According to the prosecution, the ball bearings, which was stuck together to make lumps weighing 500g, was put in the bomb to work as shrapnel, as to cause maximum destruction.

Following his arrest, Smith claimed that the ball bearings were included only to convince people that the bomb is real. But according to prosecution, the ball bearings were in a hidden compartment and they couldn’t be seen by mere observing the bomb, adding: “We suggest that the defendant’s explanation for why the ball bearings were included in the device simply doesn’t add up and make sense.”

Possible terrorism links:

Smith had a copy of the Qur’an on him when he was arrested. In interviews, he stated that he believed Islam to be truer than Christianity. However, he insisted that he doesn’t hold extremists’ views similar to those carrying on beheadings in Syria.

After Smith’s arrest, police searched the home he shared with his mother in Newton Abbot, Devon, before moving to London for University. They found a device that looked like an IED in the attic, however, it wasn’t viable.

The prosecution claims that Smith had a strong interest in weapons such as guns. Rees said: “This particular interest may have been a function of his autism spectrum disorder.”

In Smith’s home in London, police found a BB gun shaped like a revolver and a blank-firing self-loading pistol, a knuckleduster, and a Mustang knife. Both guns were legally purchased.

Also during the search, police discovered shredded documents that turned out to be an article from a magazine which belongs to al-Qaida, titled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom.”

The case is still ongoing.