Terror-plotting Essex teenager jailed for life after mother reports him | Crime

A teenager who staked out British soldiers and police officers in preparation for a terror attack has been jailed for life after his mother took what a judge has described as the “bold step” to report him.

Matthew King, 19, who wanted to travel to Syria to join Islamic State, expressed a desire online to kill a British Marine and had made a series of videos of potential targets outside an army barracks, a magistrates court and railway station.

He had discussed his murderous plans online with a young woman – identified in court only as Miss A – but Judge Mark Lucraft KC praised King’s mother in his sentencing remarks for acting on growing concerns about her son’s behaviour.

“She took the very bold step of alerting Prevent [the counter-terrorism programme] when she had concerns for her son”, the judge said. “That cannot have been an easy thing to do in the first place and in my view she absolutely did the right thing.”

King, from Wickford in Essex, had earlier pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts between 22 December 2021 and 17 May 2022.

On Friday, he was handed a discretionary life sentence with a minimum term of six years in the first terrorism sentencing in England and Wales to be televised.

King’s defence had claimed the chances of the teenager’s plans coming to fruition were remote but Commander Dominic Murphy, who leads the Met’s counter-terrorism command, said officers had believed an attack was imminent.

He said: “We had seen an escalation in Matthew King’s behaviour, in his reconnaissance, in his online activity. I genuinely believe this was an imminent terrorist attack. Without the public’s help and without the efficient investigation of my officers, officers from the eastern region and members of the intelligence community, we wouldn’t have been able to disrupt what, for me, was an imminent attack.”

Murphy said that Scotland Yard was concerned by a recent growth in the number of young males suspected of being a terrorist threat.

King had “dabbled with drugs” and was expelled from school after becoming aggressive. He left education at 16 and became interested in Islam in 2020.

By May 2021, his family had noticed he had become more extreme. In discussions online during the pandemic lockdowns, he had talked of wanting to get his hands on a US or British Marine. “I just wanna die a martyr,” he had told Miss A.

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After the young woman encouraged him in his plans, he had added: “I guess jihadi love is powerful. I just want to kill people.”

King had set up an online account with the retailer Knife Warehouse, searched for IS tactical training videos in the use of knives and bought “tactical gloves” and eye protection.

On 17 May 2022, a CCTV camera captured King filming at night outside a 7 Rifles army barracks in Stratford, east London.

He was arrested at his home the following day by officers from the Metropolitan police counter-terrorism command. He told police: “The only thing which is black and white is the sharia, the law of Allah.”


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