Northern Ireland news

15-year-old boy threatened to 'shoot up school'

A PUPIL who posted a video on Facebook of him holding a 'gun' and saying he was going to go and "shoot up" his school sparked a police lockdown of students in County Antrim, a court has heard.

The boy (17), who cannot be named because of his age, was 15 at the time of the incident.

Earlier this year at Coleraine Youth Court the teenager pleaded guilty to three charges of 'sending menacing messages via electronic communications'.

He pleaded guilty to a charge that "on a date unknown between the 9th of September 2016 and the 13th day of September 2016" he "sent by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character, namely sent a picture of you holding an imitation firearm, in that it had the appearance of being a firearm, together with the comment 'getting ready for school."

He also admitted sending a message which stated: 'Tryna figure out what to listen to before I go on my school shooting spree. Gotta make sure I pick the right song'.

The third charge the boy pleaded guilty to was sending a message 'showing a person making a gun gesture followed by the words 'tic toc'.'

The teen also admitted six counts of possessing indecent photographs of children.

The boy, who is from County Antrim, was back at the Youth Court yestereday for sentencing where he was made the subject of a Youth Conference Order.

Prosecutor James Brady told the court that on September 12, 2016, pupils from Our Lady of Lourdes School in Ballymoney alerted teachers that the youth had shared on social media.

Police were alerted and the school put on "lockdown" with pupils not allowed out.

The teenager was not at school but was arrested at his home address, where police seized a "silver cowboy style pistol".

The defendant told police he recorded the message on Facebook "as a joke" and he had no intention of shooting up the school.

He said the gun was a toy gun he found in a neighbour's garden.

Police examined laptops and found the boy was a fan of Marilyn Manson music and there were also references to firearms and mass school shootings.

Indecent images of children were also found on a laptop including two deemed to be in the most serious category.

Defence barrister Stephen Mooney accepted it was a "uniquely troubling and alarming" case, but there was never any intention of carrying out the acts.

He said the boy had no means to do so and only had a toy "cap gun".

The court was told a Youth Conference Plan included the boy writing a letter of apology and an internet prohibition.

Because of the boy's age he will not be put on the Sex Offenders Register in relation to the indecent images.

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