Boy, 15, Facing Terror Trial Researched Isle of Wight Festival as Target, Court Told

Boy, 15, Facing Terror Trial Researched Isle of Wight Festival as Target, Court Told
FW Pomeroy's statue of Justice stands atop the Central Criminal Court building, Old Bailey, London on Jan. 8, 2019. (PA Media)
Chris Summers

A 15-year-old boy who allegedly developed an interest in extremist Islam and supported the ideology of the terrorist organisation ISIS researched the Isle of Wight festival as a possible target, a court in London has been told.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was charged on July 17 and made his first appearance at the Old Bailey on Thursday, when he was told he would face a trial at Winchester Crown Court in the spring of 2023.

He is accused of preparing terrorist acts under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.

The court heard the boy, who lives in Cowes, researched the annual music festival, which was attended by around 90,000 people in June 2022 and featured artists like Lewis Capaldi, Muse, Madness, and Kasabian.

The youth, who was arrested by counter-terrorism officers on July 11, allegedly searched the internet for guns, vehicles, and a stab vest and obtained a knife.

British police were tipped off by the FBI, who said they believed he was planning to attack someone who he thought had insulted Islam.

Boy Wrote Martyrdom Note, Court Told

The Old Bailey also heard he wrote one document, entitled "To My Family," which was described as a martyrdom note.

Thursday's hearing took part during the barristers' strike and the judge, Justice Sweeney, thanked the youth's representative, Rossano Scamardella QC, for attending during the industrial action.

Sweeney said: “The court would like to thank Mr. Scamardella QC for representing the defendant for the best possible reasons, given his age and the potential injustice that may have arisen were he unrepresented.”

The judge said a three-week trial would begin on April 18, 2023.

The teenager has not so far indicated if he would plead not guilty and a plea hearing is set for November.

The Isle of Wight Festival was launched in 1968 and quickly became a massive event, popular with hippies and attended by Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and Leonard Cohen.

Almost 700,000 people—four times the population of the island—are estimated to have turned up for the 1970 festival and the following year Parliament passed legislation that effectively banned it.

The festival was revived, on a smaller scale, in 2002 and has been held every year since, with the exception of 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic shut it down.

PA Media contributed to this report.