Student arrested lying next to rifle wanted to shoot up university ‘for the lols’

Student arrested lying next to rifle wanted to shoot up university ‘for the lols’

Nicholas Rees will spend six years in prison (Picture: MEN Media)

A student who ‘admired’ Andrew Tate was arrested lying next to a rifle on his bed after saying he wanted to ‘shoot everyone’ at his university for ‘lols’.

Leeds Crown Court heard Nicholas Rees, 26, talked about women in a ‘misogynistic way’ if engagements with them ‘didn’t turn out to his satisfaction’.

The Leeds Trinity University student told others that he was an admirer of controversial social media personality Andrew Tate before he was arrested and charged for hoarding chemicals and air rifles in his room at Oxley Hall, Weetwood.

Rees was found guilty of making an explosive substance, having an explosive substance, and possession of a bladed article following an 11-day trial in November last year.

Gerry Hendron, prosecuting, said that at the time of the offences, Rees was completing a Master’s degree in international business but ‘showed a resentment to other students, females in particular.’

Mr Hendron said: ‘He was aggrieved by others, [students], females, the doctors not medicating him, people in authority, and the police.’

He was first arrested in February of 2023 (Picture: MEN Media)

The court heard that Rees has ADHD, for which he was given diazepam, but there was ‘evidence he wasn’t taking it, because he was selling it to others.’

Mr Hendron said: ‘On the 13th February 2023, he was arrested under suspicion of possession of a firearm – a starting pistol – and ammunition.’

The court heard Rees had also obtained chemicals which could be constituents in an explosive substance and camouflage – of which Mr Hendron said ‘did not have a lawful purpose’.

The prosecutor told the court that the items found were ‘mainly to attack students on campus or the police… He told students as such… Going back to the academic year of 2022/2023, the defendant was exhibiting worrying behaviour to others.

‘Reports were made to management about him from other students…By February 2023, he was seen to be carrying what appeared to be a firearm in the communal areas of the halls. As a result a report was made to the police.’

It was said that on February 13 last year, Rees went to his GP surgery and asked to speak to the practice manager after sending a complaint form referring to a failure to prescribe his medication, resulting in PTSD.

Nicholas Rees was a fan of Andrew Tate (Picture: MEN Media)

Mr Hendron said: ‘The defendant told the practice manager about his medication and said he needed diazepam.

‘He said without it, his mind went into dark places and he referred to himself going on “one last outing” and “doing something serious”.

‘She took this to mean a shooting spree or a bomb and this made her extremely anxious. He showed the practice manager searches of how to make body armour. He said he didn’t want to do these things, but without the diazepam he would.’

The court heard that in a separate incident, in a chain of messages to his friend, Rees showed her ‘what he had been making’ and said he was hoping to get a ballistic face mask.

Mr Hendron said: ‘When asked why, he said: “For walking into uni one day in full military-style get-up to shoot everyone for the lols.”‘

Police seized the pistol and cartridges he was carrying at the time when he was arrested, but Rees was later interviewed and released on bail under caution.

The court heard that Rees believed a female student – someone he was attracted to – had made the police report and he approached her ‘saying he had a gift for her.’

He then handed her a noose made out of yarn and told her in Polish: ‘Go hang yourself you stupid b****.’

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It was said that over the following months, before his final arrest in May last year, Rees made two visits to two separate shooting clubs, where he concerned members with his behaviour.

The court heard that at the Yorkshire Shooting Club, a member observed him carrying a rifle bag, which when opened, spotted a ‘large combat knife.’

Rees was arrested following two ‘concerning’ phone calls he had with a West Yorkshire Police Detective Constable on May 10 last year.

It was said that Rees said he would give officers ‘three warnings to him alone or in self-defence he would use weapons’, and also said he would give three warnings to staff members at his halls of residence if they carried out spot checks in his room – which they were allowed to do.

During the second phone call, the court heard Rees spoke about what chemicals are legal to possess, to which the officer made a referral to the counter-terrorism department and the next day Rees was arrested lying next to an assault rifle.

A search of his room found various materials and chemicals including Sulphur, a copper pipe, magnesium and iron oxide.

What chemicals are illegal to possess in the UK?

According to the Licensing for home users of poisons and explosive precursors, members of the public who want to import, acquire, possess or use these chemicals must have a valid explosives precursors and poisons (EPP) licence issued by the Home Office and an associated photographic identity document.

Any suspicious transactions or attempted transaction (business to consumer and business to business) of regulated substances and reportable substances must be reported.

Source: Home Office

Mr Hendron said: ‘Evidence from a friend said that on the day of the arrest, the defendant jumped out at him dressed in camo clothing. He told him that he wanted to harm the police. Another witness – a flatmate – said he heard the defendant talking about making bombs.’

Rees had a previous conviction from when he was young for possession of a bladed article and common assault.

It was said that psychiatric evidence concluded that he has a mixed personality disorder, ADHD and ‘mental and behavioural disorders due to multiple drug misuse.’

Ryan Donoghue, mitigating, said Rees maintains he had a lawful purpose for the materials and told the judge: ‘It will be apparent to you that he is an individual with a very complex mental health history. He was biologically predisposed – his mum having been diagnosed with very similar conditions. He wasn’t given support or help until more recently.

‘He was bullied for a long period of time and spent time in the care system, with his mental health diagnosis of ADHD causing difficulties during school.

‘He is relatively still a young man with most of his life ahead of him. While he maintains his innocence to the charges he faces he is not someone completely devoid of insight into his conduct. His ideas are ultimately a fantasy.’

His Honour Judge Khan KC jailed Rees for six years and told him: ‘What you did was acquire explosive substances and other chemicals with a view to cause harm to others.’

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