A student living in Bermondsey has been found guilty of building a bomb and leaving it on a Tube train.
Damon Joseph Smith, 20, of Abbeyfield Road, Bermondsey, was today, Wednesday, found guilty of making or possessing an explosive substance with intent to endanger life by a jury at the Old Bailey.
The autistic student, who originally lived in Newton Abbot, Devon, but moved to Bermondsey with his mother in May last year, claimed he had only intended it to give off smoke and scare people.
On October 20 last year, Smith, then nineteen, entered Surrey Quays Station shortly after 10.30am carrying a holdall.
He caught an Overground to Canada Water before switching to a westbound Jubilee Line train and then got off at Southwark before boarding a train in the direction he had just come from.
Smith got off the Tube train at London Bridge, leaving a rucksack – which had been concealed in the holdall – behind.
There were at least ten passengers in the carriage. Only nineteen minutes had passed since he first entered Surrey Quays.
A short time later, one of the passengers saw the abandoned bag and it was reported to the driver at Canary Wharf. The driver, having noticed wires and a clock, radioed ahead.
At approximately 11am, the train and North Greenwich Underground Station were evacuated; the device was later found to have been set to go off at approximately 11:02am.
At this point, Smith casually made his way to London Metropolitan University, where he was a student.
Smith was arrested the following day by officers, assisted by armed colleagues, on Holloway Road, in north London.
He was taken to a south London police station where he was interviewed about his actions the previous day.
During a search of his home, officers found a blank firing pistol, a BB gun, a knife and knuckleduster.
When officers examined his social media accounts they discovered that Smith had ‘liked’ a number of videos relating to explosions and had shared articles, on social media, about the current threat level.
More significantly, officers discovered a number of shredded documents.
These were carefully reconstructed by a forensic scientist and found to be pages from an online magazine that gave instructions on bomb-making.
A ‘shopping list’ of bomb materials – created on September 2, 2016 – was recovered from his iPad. Components to make an IED were also found at the house.
As a result of all of the evidence, Smith was charged on October 26, 2016.
Commander Dean Haydon, the head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “Throughout this investigation and subsequent trial, Smith claimed that his actions were meant as a harmless prank and that the object was nothing more than a smoke bomb.
“It is hard to believe that leaving what has been described as an improvised explosive device on a tube train, on a weekday morning, can be construed as anything but an attempt to endanger life. It is fortunate that the device failed to work and that no one was injured.
“At a time when the threat level remains at severe, I find it unlikely that anyone would consider his defence as an appropriate excuse for his actions.
“The jury rightly disagreed with him and I expect that Smith will now face a significant prison sentence.”
Assistant Chief Constable Alun Thomas, head of the British Transport Police’s Specialist Operations, said: “Smith’s unattended bag was spotted by a passenger who brought it to the attention of staff, who in turn contacted police.
“This highlights the importance of being vigilant when travelling on the railway network, and reporting anything suspicious.
“British Transport Police, along with our partners at the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police, regularly train and prepare for incidents such as this and were able to respond swiftly with their specialist skills.
“It is very fortunate that in this incident the device failed to work, was safely contained, and no one was injured.
“We are pleased that the jury returned a guilty verdict and hope the sentence will demonstrate that actions like Smith’s have very serious consequences and are never ‘a harmless prank’.”
Members of the public are encouraged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police by calling the confidential anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321. In an emergency dial 999.