Fife loner jailed after researching school atrocities online and buying gun and ammunition

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A loner from Fife who searched online for the Dunblane school shooting and bought a pistol and live ammunition was jailed for five years after a judge said the use of the weapon could have resulted in “unimaginable horror”. James Maxwell paid for a Glock 17 pistol and ammunition to be delivered from the US to his home in Henderson Park, Windygates, Leven, using cryptocurrency for the transaction over the dark web. The package containing the weapon and bullets – hidden in an electronic household item – was intercepted on January 9 this year by US authorities. Lord Ericht told Maxwell, who claimed he had been suicidal: “The ammunition you ordered was far in excess of the amount necessary to kill yourself. You ordered 100 rounds. “The ammunition you ordered was of a specific type which was not necessary to kill yourself. “It was hollow point, live ammunition – hollow point ammunition is designed to cause greater injury than standard ammunition. “100 rounds of that kind of ammunition used against school pupils would have been an unimaginable horror.” At the High Court in Edinburgh, the judge pointed out Maxwell, 28, had made internet searches of when schools broke for Christmas in 2022, the 1996 Dunblane school atrocity and primary schools in Glasgow. He said it was a feature of many school mass shootings, including at Dunblane and many in America, they ended with “the killer turning his gun on himself”. He said: “I commend both United States law enforcement officers and Police Scotland for their actions in ensuring the gun and ammunition were not received by you.” He ordered first offender Maxwell to be kept under supervision for a further four years when he will be on licence and can be returned to prison if he breaches its conditions. Sinister searches The court heard previously the US authorities contacted Police Scotland and the ordered item was delivered to Maxwell’s home address two days later, after the pistol and bullets were removed. When officers arrived they found Maxwell wearing blue latex gloves and a laptop in use in his bedroom with an instruction manual for a Glock firearm. Unemployed Maxwell told officers during an interview he had paid £1000 for the gun and ammunition using cryptocurrency. He claimed that in October last year his mental health had deteriorated and he began feeling suicidal and researched how to source a gun and bullets. Advocate depute Richard Goddard KC said: “He stated that prior to the delivery of the package he was no longer suicidal but made no effort to cancel the order as he assumed that as he had paid for it, he had to receive it.” The prosecutor said the laptop was examined and searches were found including “best suicide method” and “suicide by gunshot uk”. He added: “However, other searches included the words ‘primary school in Glasgow’, ‘Dunblane school massacre’, ‘when do schools break up for Christmas 2022′.” Mr Goddard said the type of ammunition ordered by Maxwell was designed to deform on impact, increasing the surface area of the bullet and resulting in increased injury. During an examination of Maxwell’s mobile phone, police discovered he made searches for ’13-year-old boy’ and ‘cute 14-year-olds’. He was also found to have a video on his laptop of a girl, aged between eight and 10, performing a sex acts and eight still images of bestiality. A further 184 files with names referencing child sexual abuse and extreme pornography were found to have been accessed. ‘Very odd, isolated existence’ Defence counsel Jonathan Crowe said his client had a “troubled upbringing” and there was a significant life-changing event for him when he was aged 13, when his father killed himself. He said Maxwell stopped going to school and spent his time in his bedroom playing games. “He has never attended college, he has never been in employment. “He has sustained this very odd and isolated existence with extremely limited contact with the outside world.” Mr Crowe said Maxwell has described himself as being suicidal for many years. Sex Offenders Register Maxwell earlier admitted purchasing and attempting to acquire a Glock 17 pistol and ammunition illegally and being concerned in an attempt to fraudulently evade the ban on the importation of such items between December 1 last year and January 11 this year. He also pled guilty to making an indecent image of a child between April 22 last year and January 11 this year and possession of extreme pornography. Maxwell, who followed the sentencing proceedings via a live link to prison, was told he will be on the Sex Offenders Register for seven years.

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