THE month-long trial of an Island teenager accused of terrorism offences in 2022 — which included his plans to attack the Isle of Wight Festival — will soon reach a conclusion.

The boy, appearing before a jury at Kingston Crown Court, denies three counts of the dissemination of a terrorist publications, engaging in conduct in the preparation of terrorist acts, and possession of a bladed article in a public place.

Today (Thursday), Rossano Scamardella, defending, drew the jury’s attention to the defendant’s age, condition, education, and personal characteristics.

He said acts of terrorism are abhorrent to right thinking and decent human beings, and while the case was an example of the kind of threat that might unsettle members of the jury, he urged them to put emotion to one side and focus on the evidence, and the evidence alone.

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Mr Scamardella said it was inevitable members of the jury would disapprove of lots of the things the 16-year-old had done, regardless of the motive or intention.

He said much of what he said and did following his conversion to Islam would have appalled them, and he must now live with the fact that that behaviour has been uncovered.

But Mr Scamardella said he could not and must not be convicted for the words and actions alone.

The court heard his actions were not disputed, but they must be accompanied by a criminal mindset for conviction.

Watching videos of beheadings is awful, said Mr Scamardella, and discussing violent, even lethal attacks at public events is shameful, but the actions themselves are insufficient.

What is in dispute is what was in his head; his mental state and his intention.

Mr Scamardella said the defendant’s childhood was blighted by two significant events, including his autism diagnosis.

Mr Scamardella touched on the typical characteristics of autism, and how it affects the way people think, their social interactions, and their problems starting and maintaining friendships.

He said it was very relevant when considering his behaviour, impacting his ability to form balanced judgments and make considered decisions.

He said the defendant exhibited preoccupations, and because he had been rejected by his school peers, he sought connections online rather than in the flesh.

Mr Scamardella told members of the jury the defendant decided upon Islam as his religion of choice, and its structure, rigidity, routine and pattern would have been appealing to him.

He said he became utterly fascinated by it, his interest intensified, and he wanted to become the perfect Muslim.

Mr Scamardella said internet research gave him access to friends and connections; something he couldn’t get anywhere else.

As his interest grew, it was inevitable he would view material of a graphic nature, said Mr Scamardella, and his desire to shock was satisfied by his new connections.

He said the defendant’s fixation affected his everyday life but was a part of his personality long before Islam ever featured.

He said the defendant had no ability to properly regulate his thinking, didn’t know where the boundaries were, and went too far.  

The court heard he loved to shock people, to be controversial, and to exaggerate about things he had done, long before his involvement with the Muslim faith.

He made outrageous, ridiculous, laughable claims, said Mr Scamardella, none of which were genuine.

The court heard the defendant told multiple people he carried a knife for safety.

Mr Scamardella said it was common knowledge, and he had no intention to use it to attack someone.

He said he feared an attack, imminent or at anytime, and he had been abused and threatened by someone with a blade in the past.

To gain notoriety, this insecure 15-year-old, desperate for friends and validation, purported to support ISIS and extreme methods, and it fed his need for connections and popularity, said Mr Scamardella.

At one stage, the court heard the defendant even contacted the police to ask if what he was doing was illegal, putting himself squarely on their radar, and Mr Scamardella questioned the purpose of that correspondence if he had genuine intentions of committing an act of terrorism.

Mr Scamardella said the defendant harboured no intention to launch a terror attack at the Isle of Wight Festival.

He said it was hollow, ludicrous boasting about something he wouldn’t know where to start with; all talk, all to shock, all utterly empty.

A boy who cannot drive, without a car, planning to kill hundreds of people driving into them at a music festival; about as far fetched and unrealistic as it is possible to be, said Mr Scamardella.

He added: "The entire thing is the stuff of fantasy."

The trial continues.