Briton gets 15-year prison sentence for planting bomb on London Underground train

An undated handout picture released by the British Metropolitan Police Service in London on May 3, 2017 shows Damon Joseph Smith pointing a ball bearing gun.
An undated handout picture released by the British Metropolitan Police Service in London on May 3, 2017 shows Damon Joseph Smith pointing a ball bearing gun.PHOTO: AFP/METROPOLITAN POLICE

LONDON (AFP) - A 20-year-old British man was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Friday (May 26) for planting a bomb on a busy London Underground train last year in what he claimed was a Halloween prank.

Student Damon Smith, who has a form of autism and an obsession with weapons, left the bomb in a backpack on a crowded train in October.

The abandoned bag was spotted by two members of the public who handed it to the driver, who in turn raised the alarm when he saw wires sticking out.

Smith was convicted for possession of an explosive substance with intent and sentenced to 15 years in a young offenders' institution, a type of prison.

The bag was packed with explosives and ball bearings and the device was timed to go off within minutes.

Judge Richard Marks said there was no "clarity or certainty" as to the motivation for Smith, who was interested in Islam but denied being an extremist.

"The seriousness of what you did cannot be overstated, not least against the background of the fear in which we all live from the use of bombs here and around the world, an all too timely reminder of which were the events in Manchester earlier this week," Marks said.

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people and injured dozens more on Monday (May 22) when he detonated a device outside one of the exits of the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena after a pop concert.

That attack was claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.