A 17-year-old boy arrested after police foiled a suspected bomb plot in Australia’s second-largest city has appeared in court charged with terror offences.
The teenager, who sat in the dock flanked by police during the hearing, was remanded in custody after a brief court appearance at Melbourne Children’s Court, charged with planning a terrorist act in Victoria state and possessing items connected with a terrorist act. He faces a potential life sentence if convicted.
The boy, who did not enter a plea or apply for bail, will appear next on May 26.
The teenager, the son of a Syrian-born doctor, was arrested on Friday outside his home in the Melbourne suburb of Greenvale in a police anti-terror operation. A bomb squad destroyed three explosive devices found in the house.
Police have said an attack was imminent, but have not revealed where or when the suspect planned to detonate the bombs.
Prime minister Tony Abbott said he had been briefed that the bomb plot had been in a “reasonably advanced state of preparation”.
Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner Mike Phelan said at the time: “As a result of the Victoria police and AFP interception, some Victorians are going to be alive because of it. Had we not intervened, there was a real threat of action being taken.”
The teenager was driving from his home with a woman when he was stopped by police, Victoria Police deputy commissioner Bob Hill said. Police ordered three occupants of the house to come outside and news reports said they emerged with their hands up.
Mr Hill said the boy’s family was unaware that bombs were stored in the two-storey home.
“His family are a caring, loving family that are now very, very distraught as a consequence of what is alleged. It has undoubtedly taken them by surprise,” he said.
None of the boy’s family appeared to be in court.