A 14-year-old resident of Colerain, Northern Ireland was arrested and charged with the attempted possession of a live firearm and 100 rounds of ammunition.
The dark web offenses were purportedly committed between March 27th and April 7th of this year.
The teenager had allegedly shelled out 150 British Pounds to secure the ammunition first while he waited to purchase the Russian machine gun.
According to the lead detective, the 14-year-old boy was purchasing the firearm from the dark web with intent to intimidate and possibly endanger an individual’s life.
He had handed over the 150 British Pounds to an undercover police operative who posed as a dark web dealer from whom he also intended to purchase the machine gun from.
The Colerain resident was later arrested in a subsequent police operation at the Riverside retail park.
The Defendant’s Account
After his arrest, the teenager presented his side of the story in the form of a previously prepared statement in which he introduced a second character in this foiled weapons purchase.
According to his statement, a 40-year old Jamaican man he had met on Facebook had asked him to pick up a deactivated Russian submachine gun and a cache of blank ammunition bought from the dark web.
Police investigations into the matter revealed that the teenager had no Facebook friends who fit the profile of the Jamaican man and therefore, disbelieved his account as well.
Weapons Were Purchased to Intimidate, Says Operative
According to the dark web operative who met with the teenager to facilitate the payment for the ammunition, the 14-year-old had explicitly stated that the firearm was being purchased with the sole intent to intimidate an unmentioned third party.
Disproving his story further was the account of the detective who mentioned that the gun and the ammunition that were being ordered from the dark web were live and also dangerous.
She also waved off his account, saying that it was “unbelievable” that a Jamaican man living in Northern Ireland had appointed him to carry out the dark web transaction on his behalf.
For that reason, the officer strongly opposed bail for the young teenager since he had already proven to be capable of causing serious harm to other people.
Furthermore, was his account true, the officer was certain that he would use that opportunity to delete the Facebook exchange between him and the Jamaican man and any other history that linked him to the purchase of weapons and ammunition from the dark web.
Teenager Granted Bail
In any unorthodox dark web story, especially when the defendant is too young to be tried as an adult, bail is often granted.
In this case, the defendant’s lawyer Derwin Harvey dismissed the detective’s allegations that the teenager had the intent to delete his dark web conversations once he was granted bail and deemed these assumptions to be nothing but “guesswork.” Based on that premise, District Judge Liam McNally decided to post conditional bail at 500 British Pounds.
The teenager, who appeared in court clad in a gray hoodie over a red t-shirt, was released temporarily while awaiting trial under the conditions that he would not possess any device that could connect him to the internet and that he would sign in and sign out on arrival and departure from school respectively.
If any of these conditions were broken, the 14-year-old would be detained for months at a local youth justice center as he awaits trial for his dark web crime activity.
His next court date is scheduled for April 25 at the Colerain magistrate’s court, where he will stand trial.