Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 18:52 UK

Boys 'wanted to blow up school'

Matthew Swift
Matthew Swift is a former pupil of Audenshaw School

Two teenagers planned to blow up their school in a massacre timed to coincide with the anniversary of a massacre at a US school, a court has heard.

Matthew Swift, 18, and his friend, Ross McKnight, 16, of Denton, Greater Manchester, deny conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions.

Manchester Crown Court heard they plotted to blow up Audenshaw School 10 years after the Columbine tragedy.

A teacher and 12 students died at a school in Columbine, Colorado, in 1999.

The court heard the pair became obsessed with the massacre on 20 April 1999, and wanted to emulate the actions of the two killers - Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris.

Their two targets were a shopping complex, Crown Point North, and Audenshaw School where Mr McKnight was still a student and Mr Swift a former pupil, the court heard.

Audenshaw School
The jury was told the boys planned to murder teachers and pupils

The pair were arrested in March.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said to the jury: "It is the prosecution case that these two young men sat in the dock had planned to copy and emulate the actions of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, here in the UK."

The court heard Mr McKnight and Mr Swift had agreed to detonate a bomb at Crown Point North as a diversion before driving to their school, murdering teachers and pupils and then killing themselves.

Mr Wright said they were also fascinated by the Oklahoma city bombings, carried out by Timothy McVeigh in 1995, which resulted in the deaths of 168 people and injuries to 450 others.

Mr McKnight wrote an essay about a fictional massacre at a school in Audenshaw in which ten people died and hundreds were hurt.

'Greatest massacre'

Mr Wright said: "The 10 people (were) killed by the one person who had some sort of grudge against the school or some sort of grudge against people who went to school.

"The evidence, you may think, this was not a piece of creative writing, this was an explanation of the state of mind of that young man."

We will walk into school and at the end of it no one will walk out alive ...after we have finished in Audenshaw we will have to kill ourselves there and then
Ross McKnight's diary entry

Eighteen months after the essay was written, Mr McKnight rang a friend when he was drunk to tell her he loved her and that "he couldn't wait until April 20 - the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre".

The jury also heard the defendants wanted to adopt the personas of the Columbine killers by using their nicknames or alter-egos.

Entries from Mr McKnight's diary included talk of "Project Rainbow's" official start day in November 2007.

In the diary he spoke of the "greatest massacre ever" and killing thousands of people.

"We will walk into school and at the end of it no one will walk out alive... after we have finished in Audenshaw we will have to kill ourselves there and then."

Mr Swift had been given an "exclusion order" banning him from Crown Point, which sparked his resentment, the jury was told.

Crown Point, Denton
Crown Point North was one of the boys' targets, the prosecution said

After police arrested him they found a plan of his former school and a manual with instructions on ingredients to use in explosives.

A diary was also recovered in which Mr Swift talked of his unhappiness and railed against life in general, Mr Wright told the jury.

It contained notes on the Columbine massacre and pictures of Klebold and Harris taken from CCTV footage of their attack, which Mr Swift described as a "beautiful image".

Photographs of two other people who carried out school massacres - Finnish student Pekka-Eric Auvinen and Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho - also featured.

Swift wrote: "I do not consider myself to be normal, come to think of it I do not think of myself as human."

Another entry read: "I will complete Project Rainbow, I will show no mercy... I will make history."

The trial continues.

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