A hate-filled loner who idolised the Columbine High School shooters has been convicted of planning a killing spree in his home town in Cumbria.
Shane Fletcher, 21, from Workington, wanted to emulate Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who murdered 12 students and one teacher at their school in Colorado in 1999 before killing themselves.
His target was a medieval football match, the Uppies and Downies, which sees thousands gather in the streets of his home town each Easter to play and spectate.
Fletcher had spoken of his hatred of Workington and how easy it would be to get a van and plough down people in revenge for years of being bullied and looked down on, Manchester Crown Court heard.
He was arrested on March 10 last year, days after his probation officer contacted police when Fletcher told him the only things preventing him from carrying out the mass murder was a lack of cash and access to weapons.
Police found a diary under his sofa which contained written instructions on how to make a pipe bomb and improvised napalm, along with his mobile phone which contained an image of the Columbine killers lying dead on the ground.
Also in the diary found at his family home in Wastwater Avenue were numerous entries which highlighted his anger.
One entry read: “On the 4th April Workington will be oblitrated (sic), everything and everyone will be destroyed. I will show no mercy killing you so called humans I will be doing it with a smirk on my face you dirty canceras (sic) pricks…
“I have started this diary counting down the days to WM witch (sic) will be the most exciting day of my life I plan.”
The Crown suggested WM stood for Workington Massacre.
Facebook messages between Fletcher and his “only friend” Kyle Dixon were subsequently recovered which showed the defendant trying to persuade Mr Dixon to join him in the murderous attack.
Fletcher told Mr Dixon he had thought about killing others and then taking his own life since the age of 15 and they were “now like Eric and Dylan apart from they shot in a school”.
Prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford had told the jury Mr Dixon was a young man with “significant problems” who had suffered a brain injury, and that his initial enthusiasm happily petered out.
On Thursday, Fletcher was found guilty of one count of soliciting to murder and two counts of collecting or making a record of information useful for terrorism purposes.
Fletcher did not give evidence in his defence but his barrister, Simon Csoka QC, said Fletcher was a lonely attention-seeker who was fully aware his comments about the Uppies and Downies to his probation officer would be passed to police.
He argued the Facebook chats with Mr Dixon were “stupid and idiotic” conversations between two young men which were “a world away from these fanciful theories about the Columbine massacre”.
Nine months before his arrest, Fletcher had been referred to the Government’s counter-terror programme Prevent after he told his probation officer he was a risk to minorities and had dreamt of shooting up a mosque.
Fletcher, a self-professed white supremacist, rejected an offer to meet a former member of extremist group Combat 18 who he labelled “race traitors”, but was told he would continue to be monitored by Prevent.
He had been seeing the Probation Service since April 2017 following his release on licence from a jail sentence.
The Crown said the defendant’s unhealthy obsession with mass murderers and serial killers – fuelled by watching TV documentaries – including West Cumbria spree killer Derrick Bird, eventually developed into a desire to target his home town.
Sentencing was adjourned until March 14 for a psychiatric report to be prepared.