A teenager has been jailed for a minimum of 11 years after planning an Islamic State-inspired vehicle attack in Cardiff.
Lloyd Gunton, 17, had armed himself with a hammer and knife and wrote what was described as a martyrdom letter as part of his plot to kill “non-believers” in Cardiff.
He was convicted of preparing for terrorist acts after a nine-day trial at Birmingham Crown Court late last year but today was given a life sentence, with a minimum of 11 years.
Judge Mark Wall QC, who lifted the usual order banning the identification of those under 18, told the court that Gunton had been “within hours of committing n act of atrocity on the streets of Cardiff”.
Judge Wall added: “It is not possible to estimate how many people would have been murdered or seriously injured by your actions, as the attack was foiled before you could undertake it.
“I am sure that you planned not just the killing of one person but rather mass murder.
“In my judgement I must pass an indeterminate sentence. Your actions show a total disregard for human life.
“I cannot foresee a time when I can be confident that your danger will have ended or decreased sufficiently to enable me to pass a determinate or extended sentence.”
Gunton, who turns 18 in April and suffers from an autism spectrum disorder, was arrested at his home in the Llantrisant area of south Wales on 30 June last year.
Judge Wall told the court that police had found what he described as a “terrorist’s kit” – a rucksack in the teenager’s room with a knife, hammer and suicide note inside.
In the note, Gunton had called himself a “soldier of ISIS”.
Instagram posts had made it clear that Gunton had planned to launch his attack on 30 June, the day he was arrested, Judge Wall added.
The boy had used Google Maps to research Cardiff’s Castle quarter, a shopping centre, the city’s Central Library and the New Theatre, the court heard.
He had also conducted “virtual surveillance” of targets such as a Justin Bieber concert at Principality Stadium.
Gunton was also convicted of two counts of encouraging terrorism by posting extremist material on Instagram, and two charges of possessing Isis propaganda magazines.
Sue Hemming from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Lloyd Gunton’s behaviour over many months leaves no doubt that he intended to kill and maim as many people as possible in an attack reminiscent of the incident on Westminster Bridge.
“He was also posting extremist content online that could have encouraged others to commit terrorist acts and downloading instructions on how to carry out ‘lone wolf’ attacks.”