Damon Smith, 20 had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and, over the years, he had taken an unhealthy interest in weaponry, gambling and terrorist groups.
Damon had researched how to make a bomb, by reading an online Al Qaeda article and watching prank videos on YouTube. He then went on to create his smoke bomb, and was caught on CCTV at London Bridge Station on 20th October 2016, leaving the device in a rucksack on the Jubilee line.
Fortunately, passengers alerted the driver about the abandoned rucksack, and everyone was evacuated at North Greenwich Station. Luckily the bomb failed to go off.
In an interview, Damon claimed the smoke bomb was a Halloween prank. The police also discovered that Damon owned dangerous weapons like a knuckleduster, a camouflaged knife and a pellet gun in his homes in South London and Newton Abbot, Devon.
Sue Hemming from the Crown Prosecution Service said, “Damon Smith’s actions were incredibly dangerous and the consequences, had the device worked, do not bear thinking about.”
Damon’s mum, Antonitza Smith said, “I felt sorry for him and now people think, he’s a killer. He’s just a vulnerable little boy who needs a bit of help, not prison.”
According to Dr Clare Allely from University of Salford, Manchester, “When dealing with an individual with autism charged with terrorism, it is important to consider how autism may have acted as a contextual vulnerability, and to ensure justice, rehabilitation and management.”
What I think
I was shocked that Damon was very irresponsible, putting London commuters into serious danger. I think his mum, who blames her son’s autism for his actions, should have guided him better about playing jokes with his dangerous hobby.
I would advise young people with autism and learning difficulties to talk with their parent or support workers to understand the side effects of something they are passionate about, to understand the dangers, before they start doing it for real.
Young people on the autistic spectrum who are vulnerable need to have the right guidance to avoid being around people who might encourage, influence or force them to do something harmful or illegal.
If you want to find more information about staying safe, read the tip from my previous report on the issue or look at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) website. You can phone the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.