Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 15:46 UK

Friend thought bomb plot 'daft'

Matthew Swift and Ross McKnight
The prosecution alleges the pair planned to bomb a shopping centre

An ex-classmate of a teenager accused of plotting a Columbine-inspired school attack did not believe he would carry out the bomb plot, a court has heard.

Matthew Swift, 18, is alleged to have planned to attack Audenshaw High School in Greater Manchester on 20 April 2009.

But his friend Phillip McFalone, 18, told Manchester Crown Court he had dismissed his plans as "daft".

Mr Swift and Ross McKnight, aged 16, both deny conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions.

The court has heard claims the pair became obsessed with the shooting in Colorado by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who murdered 12 students and a teacher on 20 April 1999.

Just like Alaska, I did not believe he would bomb the school either
Phillip McFalone

Giving evidence for the defence, Mr McFalone said Mr Swift had discussed his thoughts about causing explosions at the school and he had seen part of his diary.

Both defendants had also asked Mr McFalone about another of their plans detailed in the diary about giving up all possessions and moving to Alaska, an idea they got from the film Into The Wild.

Mr McFalone told Roderick Carus QC he had a conversation in which Mr Swift talked about blowing up the school.

He said: "He told me he thought about it. Just like Alaska, I did not believe he would bomb the school either.

"He said he wrote it down to vent his anger."

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

The court heard Mr McFalone described Mr Swift to police as the "type of person who gets ideas in his head, then writes them down".

"This is how he deals with things by writing down his emotions. Once he had got that out of his head, then he writes something else down," he told police.

Another former classmate who gave evidence on Friday was Daniel Longden, 18, who had known Mr Swift since he was aged 12. He also worked with him in Ikea.

He told the court Mr Swift had contributed to a class discussion after they were shown the Michael Moore documentary Bowling for Columbine.

"He explained their overall life was an emotional trauma but didn't say what they did was acceptable or gloated about it," Mr Longden told the court.

He agreed with Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, that Mr Swift demonstrated a wider knowledge of the massacre than was shown in the film.

The trial continues.



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