Leeds student who kept knives in halls and planned ‘shoot up for the lols’ jailed

Nicholas Rees was sentenced to six years in prison after speaking about making bombs

A Leeds student who told a friend he wanted to walk “into uni one day in full military-style get up to shoot everyone for the lols” has been charged.

Nicholas Rees was charged for hoarding chemicals and air rifles at his room at Oxley Hall.

Leeds Crown Court heard on Friday how the 26-year-old student had been convicted of making an explosive substance, having an explosive substance and possession of a prohibited article following a trial in November last year, Leeds Live reports.

An Andrew Tate “admirer”, Rees told a friend he wanted a ballistic face mask so he could commit a shooting at his university. He was also said to “talk about females in a “misogynistic way” if engagements with them “didn’t turn out to his satisfaction”.

Gerry Hendron, prosecuting, told the court last week how Rees had been convicted for multiple charges, including making and having an explosive substance, and for possession of a prohibited article.

Rees was studying a a Masters in international business at the time of the offences and was said to have shown “a resentment to other students, females in particular.”

Mr Hendron said: “He was aggrieved by others, [students], females, the doctors not medicating him, people in authority and the police.”

Given Diazempam for his ADHD, the court heard how there was “evidence he wasn’t taking it, because he was selling it to others.”

The court heard how Rees had also obtained chemicals which could be constituents in an explosive substance and camoflage. Mr Hendron said: “It was apparent in the trial that the months, weeks and days before his final arrest gave rise to suspicion that they did not have a lawful purpose.”

Mr Hendron explained that the items found were “mainly to attack students on campus or the police…He told students as such…Going back to the academic year of 2022/2023, the defendant was exhibiting worrying behaviour to others. Reports were made to management about him from other students…By February 2023, he was seen to be carrying what appeared to be a firearm in the communal areas of the halls. As a result a report was made to the police.”

He was arrested on 13th February 2023 under suspicion of possession of a firearm, which was a starting pistol, and ammunition. Rees had attended his GP surgery on the same day and had asked to speak to the practice manager after sending a complaint form referring to a failure to prescribe his medication, resulting in PTSD.

Mr Hendron said: “The defendant told the practice manager about his medication and said he needed diazepam. He said without it, his mind went into dark places and he referred to himself going on ‘one last outing’ and ‘doing something serious.’ She took this to mean a shooting spree or a bomb and this made her extremely anxious. He showed the practice manager searches of how to make body armour.

“He said he didn’t want to do these things, but without the diazepam he would.”

In a separate incident, Rees had messaged a friend and had shown her “what he had been making” and said he was hoping to get a ballistic face mask. Mr Hendron said: “When asked why, he said ‘for walking into uni one day in full military-style get up to shoot everyone for the lols.”

Police seized the pistol and cartridges Rees was carrying when he was arrested last February. He was interviewed and released on bail under caution.

The court also heard that Rees thought it was a female student he was attracted to who made the police report and that he approached her “saying he had a gift for her.”

Mr Hendron said: “He gave her a noose made out of yarn and said to her in Polish, ‘Go hang yourself you stupid b****.’ It was discovered that he had previously made internet searches for similar words in Polish.

The 26-year-old had also made visits to two separate shooting clubs, where his behaviour had concerned members. The court heard that a member at the Yorkshire Shooting Club had observed him carrying a rifle bag, which contained a “large combat knife” inside.

Mr Hendron said: “He said it was against the law to cary them in a bag. He [Rees] explained they were not real and just for display.”

Rees was arrested the final time in May last year, following two “concerning” phone calls he had with a West Yorkshire Police Detective Constable on May 10th.

On searching his room, police found various materials and chemicals including sulphur, a copper pipe, magnesium and iron oxide. Mr Hendron said: “Evidence from a friend said that on the day of the arrest, the defendant jumped out at him dressed in camo clothing…He told him that he wanted to harm the police. Another witness – a flatmate – said he heard the defendant talking about making bombs.”

Rees, who had spent time in the care system as a teenager, had a previous conviction for possession of a bladed article and common assault. Psychiatric evidence concluded he has a mixed personality disorder, ADHD and “mental and behavioural disorders due to multiple drug misuse.”

Ryan Donoghue, mitigating, said Rees maintains he had a lawful purpose for the materials. He told Judge Khan KC: “It will be apparent to you that he is an individual with a very complex mental health history. He was biologically predisposed – his mum having been diagnosed with very similar conditions…He wasn’t given support or help until more recently.

“He was bullied for a long period of time and spent time in the care system, with his mental health diagnosis of ADHD causing difficulties during school.

Mr Donoghue explained Rees had lost both his stepdad and friend, which had significantly affected him. He added that he was not still using illicit substances but was “still having thoughts of self harm around the time of the events that led to his conviction.”

He said: “He is relatively still a young man with most of his life ahead of him. While he maintains his innocence to the charges he faces he is not someone completely devoid of insight into his conduct…His ideas are ultimately a fantasy.”

Rees was jailed for six years, with Judge Khan telling him: “What you did was acquire explosive substances and other chemicals with a view to cause harm to others.”

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Featured image via West Yorkshire Police and Google Maps