Friday, January 30, 2009
A Muslim convert has been jailed for life and must serve a minimum of 18 years after launching a failed suicide bomb attack on a British restaurant
Nicky Reilly, 22, was the only person injured when he accidentally set off his home-made nail-bomb in a toilet of Exeter's Giraffe restaurant in May 2008. He later admitted attempted murder and preparing an act of terrorism. Police believe the Plymouth man, who has learning difficulties, was encouraged by extremists in Pakistan. Officers are in contact with authorities in the country via the British Embassy in a bid to trace those who contacted him, Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed. Sentencing him at the Old Bailey, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said it was "sheer luck or chance that [the bombing] did not succeed in its objectives". "The offence of attempted murder is aggravated by the fact that it was long-planned, that it had multiple intended victims and was intended to terrorize the population of this country," he added. Reilly had been preparing to detonate three bombs, created using glass bottles and containing about 500 nails, caustic soda and kerosene, when one exploded in his hands. Dozens of customers and staff fled the restaurant in panic, but no-one else was injured. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "This case demonstrates that the threat to the UK from violent extremists remains real and serious. We need to work together to prevent people, especially young people, getting drawn into illegal activities." Reilly - who converted to Islam between 2002 and 2003 - had admitted the charges in October 2008, but sentencing was delayed to allow doctors to assess his mental state. He has learning difficulties and Asperger's Syndrome, struggled to make friends and is thought to have a mental age of 10.