James Maxwell, a 28-year-old minor-attracted person (MAP) from Leven, Fife, was found guilty of using the dark web to purchase and attempt to acquire a firearm from the United States and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Maxwell had looked up the Dunblane school massacre of 1996 and the day when schools around the world traditionally dismiss for the Christmas holiday on the internet. He was detained in January and charged with two charges of acquiring and attempting to acquire and possess a handgun. The weapons were seized before they could reach Maxwell, and the case was heard at Edinburgh’s High Court.
Maxwell, incarcerated at HMP Perth, appeared at his sentence hearing via video connection. At a previous hearing, he pleaded guilty to six crimes, including having indecent photos of a minor in his possession. Investigators from the Organised Crime Partnership noticed his sinister internet searches when they seized Maxwell’s phone.
On March 13, 1996, Thomas Hamilton, then 43 years old, killed 16 students and one teacher at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland before turning the gun on himself.
Maxwell was given a nine-year sentence by Judge Lord Ericht, which consists of five years in prison and four years of post-release monitoring. Between December 1, 2022, and January 11, 2023, he admitted to purchasing and attempting to purchase a restricted weapon without authority or a weapons certificate. In addition to trying to import the rifle from the United States illegally, he also admitted to purchasing ammunition and trying to acquire and possess it.
According to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service’s (COPFS) Deputy Procurator Fiscal for Specialist Casework, Maxwell’s actions were uncovered through an intelligence-led operation by the Organised Crime Partnership.
Maxwell’s attorney, Jonathan Crowe, told the court that his client had a problematic childhood and dropped out of high school when he was 13. This was after Maxwell’s father committed himself. According to a mental evaluation, Maxwell was suicidal for a long time and avoided all social interaction.
Crowe pleaded for a reduced sentence.