Five years for Fife loner who searched online for Dunblane school shooting and bought banned pistol and live ammo

A loner from Fife who searched online for the Dunblane school shooting, and bought a prohibited pistol and live ammunition, has been jailed for five years.
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A judge told 28-year old James Maxwell, from Leven: "The ammunition you ordered was far in excess of the amount necessary to kill yourself. You ordered 100 rounds."

Lord Ericht said: "One hundred rounds of that kind of ammunition used against school pupils would have been an unimaginable horror."

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At an earlier hearing, Maxwell 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 pleaded guilty to making an indecent image of a child between April 22 last year and January 11 this year and possession of extreme pornography.

James Maxwell was jailed at the High Court in Edinburgh (Pic: TSPL)James Maxwell was jailed at the High Court in Edinburgh (Pic: TSPL)
James Maxwell was jailed at the High Court in Edinburgh (Pic: TSPL)

The court was told Maxwell paid for a Glock 17 pistol and the ammunition to be delivered to his home in Henderson Park, Windygates, using cryptocurrency for the transaction over the dark web - but a package containing the weapon and bullets was intercepted by US authorities examining outbound mail.

It was addressed to Maxwell and found to contain a household electronic device. The gun, a magazine and two boxes of ammunition were found hidden inside the device. They contacted Police Scotland and the ordered item was delivered to his 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, benefit claimant Maxwell told officers during an interview that he had paid pounds 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.

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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'."

Lord Ericht said at the High Court in Edinburgh that it was a feature of many school mass shootings, including that at Dunblane and many in America, that they ended with "the killer turning his gun on himself".

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The judge said: "I commend both United States law enforcement officers and Police Scotalnd for their actions in ensuring the gun and ammunition were not received by you."

He ordered that first offender Maxwell should be kept under supervision for a further four year period when he will be on licence and can be returned to prison if he breaches its conditions.

During an examination of Maxwell's mobile phone police discovered that he made internet searches for '13-year-old boy' and 'cute 14-year-olds'. He was also found to have a video of a girl, aged between eight and 10, performing sex acts on his laptop 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.

Defence counsel Jonathan Crowe said Maxwell had a "troubled upbringing" and there was a significant life-changing event for him when he was aged 13 when his father committed suicide. He said Maxwell stopped going to school and added: "He did not return, and as a result missed out on most, if not all, of his secondary education." He said Maxwell spent his time in his bedroom playing games.

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"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 ," said the defence counsel.

Mr Crowe said Maxwell has described himself as being suicidal for many years and has expressed a desire to end his life in many ways. The defence counsel said Maxwell was clearly a young man who required help.

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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