Edinburgh bomb scare: Nikolaos Karvounakis sentenced to eight years and four months after planting a home-made device in Princes Street Gardens
and live on Freeview channel 276
Karvounakis pleaded guilty under the under the Terrorism Act after being arrested by police on the Capital’s North Bridge back in June of last year.
On Wednesday, the judge at the High Court in Edinburgh sentenced him to eight years and four months.
Advocate depute Angela Gray told court that the bomb contained “the component parts of a potentially viable device.
"Had it detonated, it would have the potential to cause significant injury to persons and damage to property in close proximity as a result of fragments of metal pipe or metal nails that were within it being propelled outwards from the explosion,"
The judge told Karvounakis: "Although the device did not detonate, all the component parts for that to happen were present."
"The offence involved a high degree of culpability on your part as shown by the significant degree of planning."
"Afterwards you appeared to exult in the commission in your claim of responsibility," he said.
Lord Braid said he took into account that Karvounakis has no previous convictions, has expressed remorse and appeared to have renounced previously held beliefs.
The judge told him he would have been jailed for 10 years, but for his guilty plea to the offence.
In a police briefing, Stuart Houston, head of organised crime and counter terrorism unit, explained: “It doesn’t need to end like this.
"It doesn’t need to end with someone being convicted of a terrorism offence.
"And the fact is that family and friends see individuals, how they react and how they interact, online in particular, that may lead them into an avenue of being involved in radicalised behaviour.
Karvounakis was found to have several online identities, including Archegonos and Misanthropos Cacogen, writing and engaging in material that preached anti technology and anti civilisation rhetoric.
He claimed to be a member of ITS – a “Mexican, international, terrorist mafia group”
Mr Houston continued: “What we saw in the lead up to our attack on January 18 was that there was a significant number of ITS claimed incidents across Europe, but significantly in Greece.
“We also have a host of incidents in the Americas as well, Central America and South America.”
However, they “do not feature” in the UK, and the attempted bombing of Edinburgh is the only ITS attributed incident on UK soil.
Karvounakis planted the home-made bomb in a cardboard box, with the words "F--- you all" written on it, in a shelter in Princes Street Gardens on January 11, 2018.
The bomb was full of nails, and, if it had exploded, would have caused significant damage and potential loss of life.
Mr Houston added: ““His sentencing today highlights the continuous collaborative work being undertaken by Police Scotland, prosecutors and other key partners to keep our communities safe from the threat of terrorism which won’t be tolerated in civilised society.
"His reckless actions showed utter disregard for the safety of anyone within Princes Street Gardens on the day in question.”
The two year investigation into the Greek national Karvounakis involved Europol and the Greek police, who offered a crucial tip at the end of 2020 that they believed an ITS follower was living in the Capital.
When police started looking at Karvounakis, they found that his wife – who although was initially arrested, has not been charged in relation to this incident – was one of 33 people who had purchased the cardboard box used to house the home-made bomb.
Neither Karvounakis or his wife were known to UK police at the time, they had never travelled back to Greece sinse they arrived in the UK in 2013, they both worked in Edinburgh, with Karvounakis working as a cleaner at a library on George IV Bridge.
It was added that neither had a social media footprint, which is unusual, and they both lived an insular lifestyle, so police started looking at his financial situation.
Mr Houston explained: “What we found was, that between the two of them, over a period of probably nine months leading up to the attack in January...they had purchased five of the nine component part required to build that devise.”
Karvounakis’s wife was not charged in relation to the incident as there was no evidence that she was aware of her husbands plans, or even that she made any of the purchases herself, and it was not him using her details.
Another key piece of evidence was supplied after Karvounakis emailed the Edinburgh Evening News, using the name Misanthropos Cacogen, claiming responsibility for the incident.
The Evening News contacted the police to forward the email to the investigating officer, and was soon visited by the counter terrorism unit, who found the email to be genuine.
Defence counsel John Scullion QC concluded: "It is a very serious offence committed by an individual with no criminal history."
He said that Karvounakis had gone through a difficult period in his life struggling with anxiety and low self esteem and spent an increasing amount of time online and had got into conversations with persons holding extremist views, but subsequently took steps to distance himself from them.
He added: "It is fair to say he now bitterly regrets what he did and will bitterly regret it for the rest of his life."
The defence counsel earlier told the court that Karvounakis had intended to cause disruption, but not physical harm and the device was not set to detonate.
Karvounakis was told that he will be subject to notification requirements under counter terrorism legislation for 15 years and was placed on a serious crime prevention which will run for five years from his release placing limits on contacts and the use of devices.