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A student who amassed a stash of lethal weapons including a crossbow and machete has today been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Gabrielle Friel was found with a high-powered crossbow, 15 bolts, a 12-inch machete and a ballistic vest and had made repeated internet searches for firearms.
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Gabrielle Friel 22-year-old was sentenced today at the High Court in Edinburgh.
He was cleared of a second charge of wanting to carry out a ‘spree killing mass murder’.
Friel had denied both charges and gave evidence in his own defence during the trial, saying mass shooting was a ‘fantasy’ for him.
He also said he ‘felt for’ incel mass murderer Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in a stabbing and shooting spree in Isla Vista, California, in May 2014 before killing himself.
Friel had told a doctor he wanted to ‘carry out a mass shooting’ and his social worker reported he appeared to ‘almost idolise’ Rodger.
He claimed he also wanted to commit ‘suicide by cop’ when he stabbed a police officer at Edinburgh College’s Granton campus in November 2017.
Friel was found guilty of possessing the weapons at various locations in Edinburgh in 2019 including his home, a social work centre and a hospital in circumstances giving rise to the reasonable suspicion that possessing them was for a purpose connected with terrorism.
The 22-year-old appeared via video link at the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday where Judge Lord Beckett imposed the sentence with a five years extension subject to licence.
Friel was found guilty of possessing a crossbow, scope, crossbow arrows, a machete and a ballistic vest between June 1 and August 16 2019.
A second charge that he prepared for terrorist acts by researching spree killings, particularly those connected with incels – people who are involuntarily celibate – was found not proven after a five-day trial at the court in December.
Friel said fears he would fail a test had triggered negative thoughts of being bullied at high school in Singapore and previous attempts to take his own life, which led to further attempts before the college incident.
The court heard Friel was sentenced to 300 hours of community service after pleading guilty at a hearing in June 2018 to the stabbing, which endangered the officer’s life.
Items recovered by police were previously presented to the court during evidence from Khaldoun Kabbani, a forensic scientist from the Scottish Police Authority who focuses on ballistics and weapons, including the science of bullets and projectiles.
A report suggested the crossbow was in ‘good external condition’ and ‘in working order’, with the specifications stating it could fire arrows at 340ft per second and had a draw weight of 175lb.
When advocate depute Richard Goddard asked if that was a considerable weight, Mr Kabbani replied ‘yes’.
Mr Goddard also asked about the registration of crossbows, to which Mr Kabbani read out a document stating they ‘cannot be considered firearms’ but there is legislation on the sale of those with a draw weight over 1.4kg (3lb).
The crossbow shown to the jury had a draw weight of 79kg (175lb).
Mr Goddard asked what damage this could cause, to which Mr Kabbani highlighted the steel tip arrows could pierce the ‘flesh and vital organs’, with many factors contributing to potential injury, such as wearing protection.