Crime and Punishment

VIOLENT FANTASIES: Court Hears How Man Accused Of Terrorism Offences Felt ‘Cursed’

A man on trial charged with terrorism offences has said he is “addicted” to the topic of mass killing but denied wanting to cause such an event.

Gabrielle Friel, 22, told the High Court in Edinburgh he amassed weapons last summer as he wanted to commit “suicide by cop” to help end his violent thoughts.

He said mass shooting was a “fantasy” for him and he “felt for” incel mass murderer Elliot Rodger but denied being an incel – involuntary celibate – and described killers as “evil”.

Friel claimed to be trying to commit “suicide by cop” when he took knives into Edinburgh College’s Granton campus in November 2017 and stabbed a police officer.

He is accused of having a crossbow, scope, crossbow arrows, a machete and a ballistic vest at various locations in Edinburgh between June 1 and August 16 last year, including his home, a social work centre and a hospital, in circumstances giving rise to the reasonable suspicion that possessing these was for a purpose connected with terrorism.

Friel is also accused of preparing for terrorist acts by conducting online research in relation to spree killings during this time, particularly those expressing motivation from or affiliation with incels.

He is said to have “expressed affinity with and sympathy for one incel-motivated mass murderer” and to have expressed “a desire to carry out a spree killing mass murder”.

Friel denies the charges and gave evidence in his own defence on the fourth day of the trial.

He said he became interested in mass shootings when in high school, where he was badly bullied, adding: “I can’t seem to get out from it. It’s like an addiction, basically.”

Questioned by his lawyer Brian Gilfedder whether he told his psychiatrist he wanted to carry out a mass murder, Friel said: “If only I can show the whole world how I feel, my pain.

“I would do this kind of stuff but I wouldn’t do it in real life.”

Friel said he bought weapons including a crossbow, bolts and a machete, as well as body armour, in summer 2019 as he wanted to provoke police to shoot him.

He denied the plan was connected to any ideology or that it was “for incel”.

Asked what his motive was, he said: “I want police to be called in and shoot me basically.

“I can’t handle these violent fantasies in my mind. My life sucks basically. I was really depressed.”

He said he did not hate women and denied incel ideology represented him.

Questioned by advocate depute Richard Goddard QC about why a psychiatrist noted him saying “I do want to cause a mass shooting”, Friel replied: “That’s kind of my fantasy.”

Asked why he said this to his psychiatrist, when he had weapons at home, Friel replied: “I wasn’t going to cause one.”

He later added: “I never wanted to cause a mass shooting. Never.”

Friel told Mr Goddard he planned to stand in the street and provoke police into shooting him by having powerful weapons including the crossbow and machete.

Claiming he had not fully planned the event, he said he may have shot at people but would have missed.

Mr Goddard questioned Friel’s many online searches for mass killings, including the Columbine massacre.

He asked why Friel searched for a duffel bag like the Columbine killers carried weapons in and for black trench coats similar to those they wore.

Friel replied it was for “research purposes” and denied acting a “copycat manner” to them, saying: “I don’t admire these guys. I know what they’re doing is wrong.”

Questioned about Rodger, he said he “feel(s) for the guy”, adding: “I know how unfair his life was, I totally understand how he was feeling.”

But he said there was nothing to admire about Rodger or other mass killers, saying they were “evil”.

The court heard Friel pleaded guilty at a court hearing in June 2018 to stabbing the police officer at the college, endangering his life.

He was sentenced to 300 hours of community service.

Earlier, Friel told the court he had tried to kill himself several times after being bullied in high school in Singapore and again after coming to Edinburgh, when he feared he would fail a college test in November 2017.

He said he felt “picked on” and “mistreated” by his family, claiming they favoured his younger brother, and said he was a “black sheep of the community” and felt “cursed”.

Additional Reporting By The Press Association 

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