From America to Wolverhampton: How teen who planned to blow up his parents over their disapproval of his girlfriend was foiled by the FBI

By Marion Brennan | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A Wolverhampton student who planned to blow up his parents with a bomb bought on the ‘dark web’ was foiled by the FBI, it was revealed in court.

Gurtej Randhawa

Gurtej Randhawa had planned to kill his mother and father with a car bomb because they disapproved of his girlfriend.

The bright 19-year-old Wolverhampton Grammar School pupil came from an observant Sikh family but had formed a relationship with a ‘white Caucasian fellow student’ which upset his parents, Birmingham Crown Court was told.

The A* student, from Grove Lane, Wightwick, who hoped to become a doctor, began email negotiations with a potential supplier over the dark web to buy a car bomb as part of a plot to free himself to be with his girlfriend.

But the dealer turned out to be an FBI agent who passed Randhawa’s details onto the National Crime Agency.


They arrested him at his home on May 12 last year, days before he planned to carry out the explosion.

Mr Andrew Copeland, prosecuting, said Randhawa had asked a series of questions which clearly demonstrated his intention to carry out the blast, using a mobile phone to detonate the device.

The teenager wanted to know how much explosive would be needed to blow up a car, how close he had to be to make the call and how easy the device would be to conceal.


He said he did not want it to be too big an explosion in case the bomb went off in traffic, making it obvious what had happened.

The schoolboy told the ‘supplier’ he planned to use a burner phone and ‘ditch it’ after the event. The bomb was to be sent to an address he had provided but detectives had arranged for a dummy explosive device to be sent and followed when he went to pick up the package.

Randhawa immediately contacted his supplier to say the device had arrived and asked about the battery life, adding he intended to use it in three days’ time. Minutes later officers from the NCA burst into the Grove Lane property and arrested him.

The court heard he was extremely bright but had deferred a year at school so he and his girlfriend could be together in the upper sixth form at Wolverhampton Grammar.


Cunning and manipulative

The relationship was described as ‘intense’ and on occasions they would keep a phone line between them open all night even if they were sleeping. Randhawa had a rare blistering skin condition while his girlfriend suffered from anxiety and they each acted as a support for one another, the court heard.

In what Mr Copeland called a ‘cunning and manipulative move’, the defendant had told lies to his girlfriend’s family about his parents and dropped hints his mother would commit suicide and try to ‘bump off’ his father.

When he was arrested he told officers he had planned to kill himself using the bomb, which he had bought using crypto-currency worth £500. But a jury dismissed the claim at his trial last year when it was also revealed he had attempted to buy lethal poisons including ricin over the internet months before his arrest.

Mr Copeland said Randhawa had opened a Santander bank account and was due to go on holiday with his girlfriend’s family weeks after executing his plan. The pair both had places at Liverpool University in September where he was due to study medicine. Mr Michael Duck QC, defending, described it as ‘an extraordinary case’ and said Randhawa was a ‘confused and complicated young man’.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb had received dozens of written references paying tribute to Randhawa’s previous good character, which painted a picture of ‘an admired, charming, caring and hard-working young man’.

She commended the loyalty of his family – including both his parents – who had forgiven him. Randhawa admitted attempting to import explosives in July and was found guilty at the crown court in November of maliciously possessing an explosive substance with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury.

He has been locked up for eight years and was today starting his sentence.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.


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