The mother of a man who allegedly wanted to attack a mosque told police her son was a “loner” who had an “infatuation with Hitler”, a court heard.
Joyce Imrie, 50, told officers investigating her son Sam that he had no friends and had shaved his head because of his interest in the former dictator.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Mrs Imrie made the comments in a statement made following the arrest of 24-year-old Imrie at his home in Glenrothes, in July 2019.
Armed police raided the house in Colliston Avenue and arrested the whole family, including Mrs Imrie and her other children.
Imrie was detained after allegedly posting comments on Telegram – a messaging app – in which he said he was going to attack Fife Islamic Centre in Glenrothes.
On Monday, jurors heard home carer Mrs Imrie told police: “I think he had shaved his head because of his infatuation with Hitler.”
The evidence emerged on the second day of proceedings against Imrie who denies terrorism offences.
The court heard as well as describing her son as infatuated with Hitler, Mrs Imrie told police: “I would describe him as a loner who rarely leaves his room.
“He has no friends that I know of and he has no visitors to the house.
“He has never had a girlfriend that I know of.”
Armed police raid on family home
Mrs Imrie also described the moment armed police came into her house and arrested her son.
She told the court she and her other children were also arrested during the raid.
“I was in a heightened state of shock.
“Guns were pointed to our head.
“We were in our underwear and were made homeless.
“I didn’t know it was a SWAT team.
“I thought we were going to be slaughtered by a bunch of maniacs.”
Mrs Imrie told the court her son said to her: “Aw mum, I’ve done something stupid.
“I’ve pretended to set a mosque on fire.”
She said: “I think my reaction was something along the lines of ‘Jesus f*****g Christ.”
Previous involvement with authorities
She said Monday was the first time she had seen him since his arrest and that it was “quite emotional” to see him in court.
Mrs Imrie described him as a keen XBox player who had been “ranked number one in the world for some game.”
She told the court he had a “lot of mental health difficulties”.
She said he once attempted suicide – “a death by vodka-type thing” – and ended up in hospital.
Mrs Imrie, a home carer, told defence solicitor advocate Jim Keegan QC her son drank “a lot” to deal with depression.
She said he had once “been left for dead” after being assaulted as a teenager by a gang.
He came to the attention of the police as a youngster after writing what she thought was “F**k Moslems” on a bus stop close to their home.
She added: “I don’t think it went to court.
“It got referred to a children’s panel but nothing happened.”
The court also heard Imrie once changed his Facebook profile picture to a swastika.
Speaking about her son’s views of the former US President Donald Trump, Mrs Imrie said: “I think he likes his ideas.”
Mrs Imrie told Mr Keegan she did not know anything about her son “conversing” with US citizens, who could have been described as “Neo Nazis”, on Telegram.
Online group spoke of terrorists
The court later heard Imrie claimed to members of a group called ‘FashWave Artists’ on Telegram he had written to convicted Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik.
The group contained images and texts which displayed “hatred” of Jewish and Muslim people.
Police found Imrie posted one photograph on the group with a man holding a gun.
Text placed alongside the image, read: “F**k, I think it’s time to start killing n*****s again.’
Imrie also posted another remark on the group which stated: “All my heroes are mass murderers.”
Detective Constable Jonathan Leitch, 34, said he reviewed the Telegram channel, which had 279 members.
Imrie said he had got in touch with Breivik.
He told fellow Fashwave Artist users: “I wrote him a letter recently just like St Tarrant.”
The court heard that St Tarrant was a reference to Brenton Tarrant – who was convicted of carrying out a 2019 terrorism attack in Christchurch, New Zealand which resulted in the deaths of 51 people.
Prosecutor Lisa Gillespie, QC, told jurors in a statement of agreed evidence police found weapons in the bedroom of Imrie’s home in Glenrothes, on July 6, 2019.
An axe, a black-handled knife, a lock-knife and a ‘credit card knife’ were recovered.
He is also said to have possessed copies of works by far right figures and a quantity of ‘Nazi, neo-Nazi, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic and other racist’ texts, audio files and texts which “glorified terrorism”.
He is said to have driven to the Fife Islamic Centre in Poplar Road, Glenrothes where he “carried out observations” whilst in possession of a can of petrol.
It is said he later posted images of the place of worship to Telegram.
Imrie denies nine charges.
As well as those relating to the materials and online posts said to have breached the Terrorism Act 2006, he also faces charges concerning fireraising, child pornography, possessing extreme pornographic material and being unfit to drive through drink or drugs in July 2019.
The trial, before judge Lord Mulholland, continues.