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School plot accused 'will not give evidence', court told

Leeds Crown Court Credit: ITV News

Two teenagers accused of plotting a Columbine-style massacre on their school will not appear in the witness box, a court has heard.

Jurors on Friday were informed that neither of the defendants would be giving evidence in person, and were told they could draw whatever "adverse inferences" they wished to from this.

The 15-year-old boys are on trial at Leeds Crown Court accused of plotting to murder classmates and teachers at their school in Northallerton, North Yorkshire.

Prosecutors claim that the defendants, who were both 14 at the time of the alleged offences, had hero-worshipped Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the teenagers who killed 12 students, a teacher and themselves at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.

The court had previously heard how the pair had drawn up a "hit list" of people that they wished to target during the "attack".

Defending the older of the two boys, Richard Pratt QC gave the jury a series of agreed facts on which to base his case.

The court heard how, in the 1,511 SMS messages sent between the two defendants, the terms "Columbine", "genocide" and "massacre" were never used, while the word "shoot" was mentioned just once.

Prosecutors have previously claimed the older boy had expressed a desire to run away with his former girlfriend and become a "natural born killer", a reference to a 1994 film in which lead characters Mickey and Mallory Knox murdered her parents before going on a killing spree.

However, on Friday jurors were told that the same defendant had never used the terms "natural born killer" or "NBK" during the text conversations with his co-accused.

Furthermore, it was claimed that, in 3,531 Instagram messages between the older boy and his former girlfriend, the word "Columbine" had only been used twice, each time in passing.

During the defence case for the younger of the two teenagers, Tom Price QC read out a series of character references which described him as "shy", "intelligent" and "caring".

"(The boy) has always seemed shy and more comfortable in one-on-one situations", one read.

The teenagers jointly deny conspiracy to murder, encouraging or assisting an offence, and assisting or encouraging an offence believing it would be committed.

The older of the two has also pleaded not guilty to aggravated wounding, as well as a charge of unlawfully wounding his former girlfriend by using a knife to carve his name into her lower back.

The trial continues on Monday.