Gabrielle Friel likely to face ‘substantial’ jail time after being found guilty of weapons terror charge - case in full detail

A student who was ‘addicted’ to reading about mass murders carried out by misogynist ‘Incel’ killers is facing a ’substantial’ jail sentence for breaching terrorism laws.

Gabrielle Friel, 22, took possession of a lethal crossbow, 15 bolts for the weapon, a scope, and a ballistic vest to prepare for committing a terror attack.

Judge Lord Beckett said it was likely that a "substantial prison sentence" would be imposed on Friel.

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The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Friel, who lived in the city’s Comely Bank area, repeatedly searched the Internet looking at ways he could acquire a gun.

Gabrielle Friel was found guilty of possessing weapons under the Terrorism Act. Pic: Crown office
Gabrielle Friel was found guilty of possessing weapons under the Terrorism Act. Pic: Crown office

The aspiring terrorist also studied mass shootings carried out by men who described themselves as being ‘Incels’ - involuntary celibates.

A jury heard how followers of the Internet subculture are men who believe that society is organised according to physical good looks.

A leading academic told the court how ‘Incels’ believe physically attractive people dominate society and they form part of the underclass.

The court heard how many Incels believe physically attractive women should be subjected to rapes and acid attacks.

A psychiatrist who was treating Friel for personal problems believed the accused was identifying with the Incel movement - as did a social worker who worked with him.

On Monday, a jury convicted Friel of a charge which stated that between June 1 2019 and August 16 2019, at various locations in Edinburgh, he possessed the weapons “for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.” This breached section 57 of the 2000 Terrorism Act.

Jurors found a second charge against Friel not proven. This charge stated he breached the Terrorism Act by conducting online research in a bid to acquire a gun.

This charge also stated that he carried out a search of the Internet of mass murders committed by individuals ‘expressing motivation.. or affiliation’ with Incels.

The charge to which Friel was also acquitted stated that he took possession of the weapons, assembled the crossbow and fired it at a drinks can before storing it at his home in the city.

Lord Beckett remanded Friel in custody and ordered a report to be provided to him detailing his background.

The judge added: “You have been found guilty of charge one which is a serious charge.

“Before dealing with you I cannot proceed without first calling for a Criminal Justice Social Work Report.

“You will be remanded in custody and for that reason there will be a delay.

“I am going to adjourn until January 12 at the High Court in Edinburgh.

“In the meantime you will be remanded in custody.”

Edinburgh College knife attack

It is not the first time he came to the attention of the authorities.

In November 2017, the court heard how Friel was detained following an incident at Edinburgh College’s Granton Campus.

PC Mark McNulty, 25, told the jury how was one of the police officers who responded to the incident. He said Friel was found in toilets.

He said Friel pulled out an eight to ten inch kitchen knife from a bag and brandished it over his head.

PC McNulty and two colleagues grabbed him and he made stabbing motions during a struggle. One of his colleagues managed to get the knife but the other suffered a laceration to his shoulder.

Friel subsequently plead guilty to assaulting the officer to his injury and danger of life and a sheriff imposed a community payback order on him.

He was ordered to be kept under supervision for two years, to carry out 300 hours unpaid work and to engage with medical or psychiatric treatment as required following an appearance at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

The court also heard evidence about the Incel movement.

The jury heard how Incels believe that society is divided into three tiers with very good looking people, known as alphas at the top, betas in the middle and Incels at the bottom.

Incels believed they were hopeless as they could not move up the ladder in society.

They believe that society is changing for the worse and revered the myth of a golden age of patriarchy where looks did not count.

The court heard they showed a general hatred against women but also did not like men who are not Incels.

Jurors were told that although Incel was currently little known by the public it was taken seriously by intelligence and law enforcement agencies worldwide following a number of attacks.

The accused came to be treated by a forensic psychiatrist called Dr Alexander Quinn.

Dr Quinn,44, told the court how Friel said he felt “an affiliation” with a Californian spree killer called Elliott Rodger, who killed six people in a stabbing and shooting spree in Isla Vista, California, in May 2014.

Before taking his own life following the attack, the 22-year-old posted a "retribution" video to YouTube.

On the video, Rodger sat in a BMW car his family had given him and complained about being a virgin at 22, saying he had "never even kissed a girl".

In a document, he described himself as the "ideal magnificent gentleman" and said he couldn’t understand why women didn’t want to have sex with him.

He described his attack as a "Day of Retribution" and said he had "no choice but to exact revenge on the society" that had "denied" him sex and love.

Rodger said he planned to target the members of the Alpha Phi sorority whose members he had deemed the "hottest" at his college.

He described them as being ”the kind of girls I've always desired but was never able to have”.

In a statement, Dr Quinn said about the August 2019 meeting: "I asked him if he shared some of the ideals of Rodger, in particular his attitude to hating women for not being interested in him sexually. He agreed at times he did.”

He also told the court that he had a subsequent meeting with Friel when he showed him he had bought body armour and had been shopping on Google for a crossbow.

He said: "I was worried that somebody might come to harm."

He said he had made a note from the meeting with Friel of him wanting to cause a mass shooting but that it was hard as things could go wrong.

His social worker Sarah Drummond,37, told the court that she also met Friel in August 2019. She wrote in an email that Friel was almost “idolising” Rodger.

She wrote in the message; "Most of our meeting was Gabrielle talking about his anger and resentment from the past. He speaks about feeling humiliated as a child. Something he has shared over the time we have known him."

She said he continued to feel he has been unfairly treated in life and had been ruminating a lot. She added that he was "very fixated (almost idolising) Elliot Rodger,l a California spree killer at a university" stating that "he feels just like him".

The court heard that Friel was an inpatient in the Orchard Clinic secure unit at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital when he made the admissions.

Alek Minassian

Forensic scientist Khaldoun Kabbani, said that a crossbow recovered by police during the investigation was capable of killing someone.

The weapon was found along with 20 inch arrows with pointed steel tips and a telescopic sight. The company which sold the crossbow said it was "ideal for long range targets".

A machete kukri knife with a 12 inch blade was also recovered. A protective vest was also examined by Kabbani who said that it would not be considered bullet or stab proof in its current condition as metal plates had not been inserted into it.

Police officers also recovered a mobile phone belonging to Friel during the probe.

He searched for “guns for sale” and media articles about Incels and the Columbine High School shootings.

Friel also made searches for “Toronto van attack” - the expression refers to an attack in the Canadian city which was allegedly carried out by Alek Minassian. Minassian is currently standing trial in Canada on 10 charges of murder and 16 charges of attempted murder. He has also been linked to the Incel movement.

Friel denied ever planning a mass shooting.

He said he suffered from mental health problems and had acquired the crossbow and ballistic vest in the hope that if he appeared carrying them in the street, the police would shoot him.

Indonesian-born Friel claimed that he was remorselessly bullied physically and psychologically during his school days in Singapore.

He also said he could not go through with previous suicide attempts when he put a knife to his heart and climbed out on a tall building.

He claimed that when he wounded the police officer in the college attack he was hoping to provoke "a suicide by cop" which he discovered was popular in America after conducting internet research.

He also denied being an Incel saying: “I don’t hate women. If I hated women, Sarah wouldn’t be my social worker.”

He said he became interested in mass shootings when in high school, where he was badly bullied, adding that he liked to read accounts of them.

He added: “I can’t seem to get out from it. It’s like an addiction, basically.”

Prosecution lawyer Richard Goddard QC told jurors in his closing speech that there was enough evidence to convict Friel of the two counts of breaching the Terrorism Act.

Mr Goddard said there was "a host of incriminating circumstances" which amounted to a convincing case against the accused.

He said: "We know Gabrielle Friel had embraced incel ideology, fixated on it."

Following conviction, it emerged that a pre-trial report was previously prepared on Friel and he was deemed fit to stand trial.

The judge said it was a "difficult" and "unusual" case and told jurors that it involved a "rather troubling subject".

The offence which he was convicted of carries a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment.

He will reappear in court for sentencing in January 2021.