Cumbria

Shane Fletcher jailed over Workington mass murder plot

Shane Fletcher Image copyright Greater Manchester Police
Image caption Shane Fletcher told his probation officer he hated "humanity in general"

A "loner" who planned a killing spree in his home town has been jailed for nine years.

Shane Fletcher, 21, from Workington, Cumbria, wanted to emulate the US Columbine High School attackers who shot dead 12 students in 1999.

His target was the annual Uppies and Downies football event in Workington.

In January, a jury found him guilty of soliciting to murder and collecting or making a record of information useful for terrorism purposes.

He had talked about "ploughing down" people with a van and was found with bomb-making instructions.

'Improvised napalm'

Uppies and Downies sees large numbers gather every Easter for three football matches played in Workington's streets.

Fletcher had spoken of his hatred of Workington after years of being bullied and said it would be easy to get a van and run people down, his trial at Manchester Crown Court heard.

Police were alerted by a probation officer who said Fletcher told him the only things preventing him from carrying out mass murder were a lack of cash and access to weapons.

He was arrested on 10 March last year.

Image caption Uppies and Downies is a version of a medieval football game

Police found a diary under his sofa which contained written instructions on how to make a pipe bomb and "improvised napalm".

His mobile phone contained an image of the Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, lying dead on the ground having shot themselves.

Facebook messages between Fletcher and his "only friend", Kyle Dixon, were recovered which showed the defendant trying to persuade Mr Dixon to join him in the attack.

'Stupid and idiotic'

During the trial, prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford said Fletcher's motivation "was not terrorism, but hatred and a desire for revenge".

He told the court Fletcher had "wanted to achieve notoriety by going on a killing spree before killing himself".

However, defending barrister Simon Csoka QC said Fletcher, of Wastwater Avenue, was a lonely attention seeker and simply made "stupid and idiotic" comments.

Fletcher received concurrent sentences of three years each for the single count of soliciting to murder and two counts of collecting or making a record of information useful for terrorism purposes.

He must serve at least two thirds of his custodial term and will be subject to an extended licence period of four years if the Parole Board considers him safe to be released.

Handing down the sentence, Judge Patrick Field QC classed him as a dangerous offender and described it as a "deeply troubling case".

He noted Fletcher's obsessions with mass killing spree murderers - including Cumbrian taxi driver Derrick Bird and US church gunman Dylann Roof - along with his hatred of various religious and ethnic groups, women and homosexuals.

Following sentencing, Lee Ingham, of the Crown Prosecution Service's counter terrorism division said: "Like the mass murderers he admired, Shane Fletcher wanted to achieve notoriety by committing a killing spree of his own.

"The court found this hate-consumed man to be a danger to the public."

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