Page last updated at 20:11 GMT, Monday, 14 September 2009 21:11 UK

School bomb plot 'hare-brained'

Matthew Swift and Ross McKnight
Ross McKnight said he never planned to kill anybody

The father of a boy alleged to have plotted a Columbine-style massacre has told a court he and his son often came up with "hare-brained" schemes.

Manchester Crown Court also heard Ray McKnight was a serving officer with Greater Manchester Police.

Ross McKnight and Matthew Swift, 18, are alleged to have planned to attack Audenshaw High School in April 2009 on the 10th anniversary of US shooting.

Both deny conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions.

They are alleged to have become obsessed with Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who murdered 12 students and a teacher before turning the guns on themselves in Colorado on 20 April 1999.

'Tinpot scheme'

Mr McKnight, a policeman for 19 years, was asked about a plan his son and Mr Swift had to go to live off the land in the wilderness of Alaska after being inspired by a Hollywood film.

"It would be another hare-brained idea," his father said.

Earlier, his son told the jury he took survival tips from TV shows involving Ray Mears and Bear Grylls and the Alaska plan was "wrapped up in my imagination".

His father, from Denton, said other schemes his son and his friends came up with included climbing Ben Nevis in winter and a dinghy service along local canals.

I have never thought killing was right
Ross McKnight

He said he would drive up and down the country to take his son to compete in weight-lifting competitions, which was his main hobby.

Margaret McKnight, the defendant's mother, told the jury the Alaska idea was a "tinpot scheme" and her son had always been a good attendee at school, had lots of friends and had never got into trouble with police.

She said that she did not believe he was capable of violence.

'Journal entries'

Both defendants argue that references to a massacre at Audenshaw High School made in their journals and in online conversations were fantasy.

Ross McKnight said the entries he wrote talking about "killing thousands" were probably written when he was angry.

"Did you ever actually think of killing anyone?" Roderick Carus QC, defending asked.

"No," Mr McKnight replied.

He added: "I have never thought killing was right. I don't think it is right to kill anybody."

The trial continues.

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