A former army employee on trial for terror and explosives offences told police after his arrest that it was clear they were worried he was “the next Christchurch shooter”, a court has heard.
As well as making the reference to the man who killed 51 people during attacks at mosques in the New Zealand city in 2019, Dean Morrice claimed in police interviews that ingredients he was storing that could be used make an improvised explosive device (IED) were partly for home brewing.
He also told police he had wanted to rent farmland where he could set off rockets made with a 3D printer, but it was just in order to have fun with his children.
A previous hearing at Kingston crown court was told the 34-year-old had a stockpile of chemicals used in home-made explosives as well as a cache of terrorism manuals and instructions for a 3D-printed gun when his home was raided in August last year.
On Monday, the trial heard details of police interviews in which he expounded on his beliefs, saying he had undergone “an awakening” when the then Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, was involved in an air crash in 2010. At other points he claimed that he was apolitical, but also admitted that he sympathised with some elements of an ethnicity-based “ethno-nationalism”.
“I might have been an idiot and an expressed a few ideas, some ideas that would be quite edgy for some people but would not put me in the category of being a terrorist,” he told police.
He expressed regret filming himself strumming along with a guitar to footage of the Christchurch attacker, Brenton Tarrant, in an alleged tribute that was posted online.
It was a “dumb joke” Morrice told police, adding that he was concerned they would draw “an incorrect conclusion” after coming across the chemicals, which he maintained were for innocent purposes, and other items at his home such as a Nazi flag, a second world war German paratrooper replica dagger and a lighter with an SS insignia on it.
Asked about his online research into how to make explosives and manufacture firearms using a 3D printer, he said that this was just done out of curiosity. The court also heard details of Morrice’s interactions on far right forums and social media channels, including with one other person who was said to be a former soldier.
He denies two counts of having an explosive substance, three counts of dissemination of a terrorist publication and one of encouraging terrorism between March 15 2019 and August 20 2020.
He further denies four counts of possession of a document useful for terrorist purposes.
A previous hearing was told that he had watched the entire 17-minute-long Christchurch attack within hours of the shooting in New Zealand on 15 March 2019, and soon after read Tarrant’s neo-Nazi manifesto.
The case continues.