January 30, 2009 / 2:19 PM / 11 years ago

Failed Exeter suicide bomber jailed for life

LONDON (Reuters) - A Muslim convert who tried to carry out a suicide bomb attack on a busy family restaurant in Exeter, Devon, was jailed for life on Friday.

Nicky Reilly, 22, suffered serious injuries when a homemade bomb exploded as he tried to assemble it in the toilets of the Giraffe restaurant last May.

He was arrested as he staggered outside with injuries to his face and hands.

“The offence of attempted murder is aggravated by the fact that it was long-planned, that it had multiple intended victims and was intended to terrorise the population of this country,” said Judge David Calvert-Smith.

“It was sheer luck or chance that it did not succeed in its objectives.”

Reilly, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome and has learning difficulties, was told he would serve at least 18 years behind bars, the Press Association reported.

At a hearing last October, Reilly pleaded guilty to attempted murder and to a charge of engaging in preparation for terrorism.

The Old Bailey heard he wanted to become a martyr and had planned to bomb a public place to show support for what he viewed as persecution of Muslims around the world.

He had also considered attacks on Plymouth police station and Devonport dockyard, one of the Royal Navy’s biggest bases.

Reilly, from Plymouth, used the Internet to research how to make bombs using caustic soda, kerosene, drain cleaner and nails, the court was told.

He travelled to Exeter with six bottles and began assembling three bombs in the restaurant toilet. He had planned to run out into the dining area with the bombs, but got stuck in the cubicle and one of the homemade devices then exploded.

“He may well be the least cunning person ever to have come before this court for any offence of this magnitude, for terrorism,” his lawyer Kerim Fuad told an earlier hearing.

Police said Reilly had been “preyed upon, radicalised and taken advantage of” and had been helped in the plot by two unidentified people who contacted him on an extremist website.

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison

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