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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 14:35 GMT
Three years for 'ricin' letter pupil
Paul Smith is led away from court after being sentenced
Paul Smith is led away from court after being sentenced
A school pupil who sent a letter claiming to contain the poison ricin to Prince William has been sentenced to three years detention.

Paul Smith, 17, from Dumbarton, also sent a bottle of aromatherapy oil laced with caustic soda to Cherie Blair.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that he sent the packages after being "groomed" over the internet by the head of an anti-English Scottish terrorist organisation.

Lord Kingarth told Smith: "You became involved in a sinister and sustained campaign which was calculated to cause and did cause considerable distress and alarm to a number of people and a very considerable disruption."

The sixth-year pupil at Dumbarton Academy admitted sending letters containing a powder, which he claimed was either anthrax or ricin, to various people and organisations.

He was aged 15 when he sent 44 letters between August 2001 and February last year as a hoax.

Aromatherapy oil

He posted one letter claiming to contain deadly ricin to Prince William at his hall of residence at St Andrews University, Fife.

Letters were also sent to the House of Commons, Scotland Yard, the Scottish Parliament, the Home Office and the BBC.

Smith also admitted sending packages containing a substance which claimed to be a eucalyptus aromatherapy oil, along with instructions to rub the substance onto the face and hands.

It was actually caustic soda, which can burn the skin and damage the throat and stomach lining if inhaled.

He is not in any sense a terrorism junkie
Edgar Prais QC
Defence lawyer
Packages were sent to the prime minister's wife, Cheri Blair, and to Margaret Ashcroft, an aide to Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles. No-one was injured.

Edgar Prais QC, defending, said his client had been ordered to send the packages by the head of an anti-English Scottish terrorist organisation, which cannot be named for legal reasons.

He argued that Smith had been "naive, gullible and immature" but not "callous".

"He is not in any sense a terrorism junkie," he added.

Passing sentence, Lord Kingarth told Smith: "You come from a good supportive family and circle of friends with a good academic record and with a bright future.

'A certain naivety'

"I also take account of what was said in your defence that you came under the malign influence and direction of someone apparently significantly older, whose extreme political views you do not share now even if you did then.

"It was a person by whom it seems clear you were used. Although you are a bright young man you are possessed with a certain naivety."

However, he said Smith's actions "could not properly be described in any sense as mere youthful indiscretions or pranks".

"There was clear intention to cause personal injury," he said.

Smith was sentenced to spend three years in a young offenders' institution, with a 12-month supervision order on his release.

Morag Kinniburgh reports
"Police said Smith has an evil streak fuelled by Scottish republican feelings"

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16 Oct 01  |  Scotland

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