A self-professed “Andrew Tate fan” said he wanted to walk into university one day “in full military-style get-up to shoot everyone for the lols.”
Nicholas Rees, 26, has been found guilty of making and having an explosive substance and possession of a bladed article after a trial at Leeds Crown Court.
Rees was in the process of completing a Master’s degree in international business at Leeds Trinity University when he was arrested.
Officers from West Yorkshire Police found him lying next to a gun on his bed and he had been hoarding chemicals and air rifles in his room at Oxley Hall, in Weetwood, Leeds.
Nicholas Rees, 26, has been jailed
West Yorkshire Police
Leeds Crown Court heard Rees was an admirer of controversial social media personality Andrew Tate and had “showed a resentment to other students, females in particular.”
Prosecuting Gerry Hendron said: “He was aggrieved by others, [students], females, the doctors not medicating him, people in authority, and the police. On February 13, 2023, he was arrested under suspicion of possession of a firearm – a starting pistol – and ammunition.
“It was apparent in the trial that the months, weeks and days before his final arrest gave rise to suspicion that they did not have a lawful purpose.”
The court also heard Rees had also obtained chemicals which could be constituents in an explosive substance and camouflage equipment.
Leeds Trinity University
Hendron added that the items found were “mainly to attack students on campus or the police” and that Rees was “exhibiting worrying behaviour to others”.
He said: “It was apparent in the trial that the months, weeks and days before his final arrest gave rise to suspicion that they did not have a lawful purpose. Reports were made to management about him from other students. By February 2023, he was seen to be carrying what appeared to be a firearm in the communal areas of the halls. As a result a report was made to the police.
The court heard that Rees believed a female student who he was attracted to had made the police report and he approached her “saying he had a gift for her.”
Hendron said: “He gave her a noose made out of yarn and said to her in Polish: ‘Go hang yourself you stupid b***h.’
“[Internet] searches found he had been searching similar words in Polish. He began using body armour around the halls and began talking about replica guns. The defendant had made requests with maintenance staff at the halls to borrow their drills and told students it was for drilling out a replica gun to make it a real firearm.”
Nicholas Rees appeared at Leeds Combined Courts
Ryan Donoghue, mitigating, said Rees maintains he had a lawful purpose for the materials. He said: “It will be apparent to you that he is an individual with a very complex mental health history.
“He was biologically predisposed – his mum having been diagnosed with very similar conditions. He wasn’t given support or help until more recently.
“He is relatively still a young man with most of his life ahead of him. While he maintains his innocence to the charges he faces he is not someone completely devoid of insight into his conduct. His ideas are ultimately a fantasy.”
His Honour Judge Khan KC jailed Rees for six years and told him: “What you did was acquire explosive substances and other chemicals with a view to cause harm to others.”