'Dangerous' Leeds student who hinted at mass shootings stored explosive chemicals at halls of residence

A 'dangerous' Leeds student who hinted at mass shooting and would dress in Army fatigues, a bullet-proof vest and carried a starter pistol was found storing explosive chemicals in his halls of residence.
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Nicholas Rees, 26, was found with sulphur, fertiliser, iron oxide and magnesium among items in his room at Oxley Hall on Weetwood Lane in May last year, but claimed he had them to make fireworks.

The post-graduate student was brought to the police's attention months before when he told healthcare workers about the possibility of shooting and killing people if he did not get prescription drugs, prosecutor Gerald Hendron told Leeds Crown Court this afternoon.

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He bought air weapons and raised further concerns among members of local gun clubs when he tried to join while wearing a bullet-proof vest.

Nicholas Rees was jailed for having explosive substances at his halls of residence room at Oxley Hall in Leeds. (pic by WYP / Google Maps)Nicholas Rees was jailed for having explosive substances at his halls of residence room at Oxley Hall in Leeds. (pic by WYP / Google Maps)
Nicholas Rees was jailed for having explosive substances at his halls of residence room at Oxley Hall in Leeds. (pic by WYP / Google Maps)

He was found unanimously guilty after an 11-day trial in November of possession of explosive substances and possession of a bladed article. Rees appeared in court for sentencing today, but refused to listen to the prosecution's case and left he court room. He was jailed for six years.

Judge Tahir Khan KC said: "You have always maintained your innocence. Having explosive substances is so serious that only a significant term can be justified. What you did was to acquire explosive substances with a view to causing harm to others.

"You were carrying weapons on the university campus and making veiled threats to go on a killing spree. Police found numerous guns and other weapons."

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The court heard that Rees, who was studying for a masters degree in international business at Leeds Trinity University, had shown resentment to fellow students during his time in the halls of residence, particularly women, and would act in a misogynistic and threatening way, the court heard.

He would wear the camouflage clothing and walk around with what was thought to be an air pistol. He told students that he wanted to harm the police. In February last year, after hinting about shooting people and having thoughts of suicide unless he was given the tranquilising drug, diazepam, the police were alerted. He later told officers that he would defend himself with weapons. It was also found that he was not taking the medication, but selling it to others.

Rees was arrested in May last year and the chemicals, along with an arsenal of air weapons, were seized from his bedroom. His phones and computer were analysed and videos were found of himself setting fire to items. He had also searched out various chemicals over the internet. He later said he bought the bullet-proof vest to protect himself from the police, and had no respect for them, calling them "pigs".

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He believed he was innocent and a "law-abiding citizen". He has since been examined by two psychiatrists who agreed he suffers from a mixed personality disorder and ADHD. A pre-sentence report prepared for today's sentencing hearing found him to be a danger to the public.

Mitigating, Ryan Donoghue said: "He is an individual with a complex mental-health history. He was plainly suffering from several mental-health disorders and they played a role."

He said that his intentions were not based on any "terrorist ideals" and it was "clearly amateurish". He added that Rees was bullied at school and spent time in the care system. His mother was also diagnosed with similar mental-health problems, but Mr Donoghue said he had a "good insight" into his own diagnosis.