Teenager Jailed For Throwing Firebombs Onto M3

12 July 2018, 17:26 | Updated: 12 July 2018, 17:27

full m3 closure 23 sept

A "very intelligent" public schoolboy who "wanted to kill somebody" by throwing firebombs on to a motorway has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Nicholas Elger was sentenced at Winchester Crown Court for two arson charges for the two attacks on the M3 in September 2017.

The second incident caused the motorway to be closed at Winchester for 11 hours leading to major delays and causing £40 million damage to the economy.

The 17-year-old was also sentenced for eight burglary and two blackmail charges against top public school Winchester College which he attended as a boarder and two charges of theft from a supermarket.

Judge Keith Cutler sentenced Elger to the prison term with an extended licence of four-and-a-half years.

Sentencing Elger, who wore a suit and tie in court, Judge Cutler told him: "I consider you are a dangerous offender.

"There is a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm from you in the future."

Describing the defendant, the judge added: "He's very intelligent, possibly the most able chemist the college has produced in recent years.

"He's a very bright boy and for some reason he takes to burgling the school, blackmailing the headteacher and making incendiary devices and throwing them off motorway bridges."

Judge Cutler said that Elger had written in a diary in hospital stating he wanted to kill patients and staff by "strangling and jumping on heads" and had also heard a voice telling him to kill his doctor.

The judge previously lifted the defendant's right to anonymity given to minors because of the public interest in the serious offences.

The burglary and blackmail offences cost Winchester College £52,000 in stolen items and damage and the defendant twice demanded payment of £10,000 in the online currency bitcoin for him to stop carrying out further break-ins.

Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, said he was caught because of a "schoolboy error" by sending a typed blackmail letter but in a handwritten envelope which enabled staff to recognise his distinctive handwriting.

Miss Hingston said that Elger, who has previously been remanded under psychiatric care, had told medical staff that he intended to kill someone in the motorway arson attacks.

She added he told staff: "I do not regret the incident, I regret not doing them differently and not succeeding in killing."

Miss Hingston said that after the second firebomb attack "the M3 was closed for some 11 hours and caused massive inconvenience to the public and an estimated cost to the economy of £40 million."

She added: "The risk of really serious harm was great; if someone had taken avoiding action and swerved into another vehicle someone could have been killed and that was a realistic possibility."

Robert Morris, defending, said doctors had ruled out personality disorder or psychotic illness and said his actions had been caused by "immaturity and being upset by his parents' divorce, leaving his school and support networks".

He said he had been a "kind and gentle" child who was "playing up to a bad boy character he had created for himself".