back to article Ex-GCHQ software dev jailed for stabbing NSA staffer

A former software developer for Britain's cyberspy agency is facing years in the slammer after being sentenced for stabbing a National Security Agency (NSA) official multiple times. Joshua Bowles, a former Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) programmer, attacked the individual in March following at least a month of …

  1. sarusa Silver badge

    Stabby stab

    Horrific, but I couldn’t help but think of this were the US there would be at least half a dozen dead, especially given he’s a whackjob incel.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Stabby stab

      Given that the whack-job was apparently obsessed with the one woman, I seriously doubt he'd have managed half a dozen.

      It's further proof that paying attention to that side of anti-social media rots the brain. When are we going to do something about this serious threat to society?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Stabby stab

        The health effects of multiple gunshots is typically larger than of multiple stab wounds, though, so even if he didn't attempt to kill anyone else, the results could have been much worse if he had a firearm.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Stabby stab

          Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

          There are many, many ways that an obsessed whack-job can commit multiple murders. Are you wringing your hands over all of those other possibilities, too? If not, why the double standard?

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Stabby stab

            I'm responding to the what if scenario that was presented: what would be different if this man had had a firearm instead of a knife. I stated my opinion: there's a possibility that nobody else would have gotten injured, but I think the intended victim would likely have suffered more serious injuries. If you want to see opinions on a different scenario, you are welcome to posit one. What you do as a result of this prediction, or whether you even agree with that prediction, are not part of my statement.

          2. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge
            Black Helicopters

            Re: Stabby stab

            There are many, many ways that an obsessed whack-job can commit multiple murders.

            Being an elected representative being one of them. Or appointed. Reminds me of Bloody-Gina.

        2. disgruntled yank

          Re: Stabby stab

          You're not wrong. A couple of years ago, a co-worker's husband was killed by a gunshot aimed at somebody else. Not long after that, a co-worker was badly injured by a bullet from a gunfight he had nothing to do with.

      2. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Stabby stab

        Being obsessed with only one woman hasn't stopped previous nutters from killing multiple people. Some incels are mad at society as a whole for their inability to get laid so they won't limit their attacks to just women who have rejected them.

        Fortunately if a knife is all you have it is difficult to go on much of a rampage since it requires close up contact and people can defend themselves from a knife attack with items that are handy like a chair, trash can, handbag, etc. Also possible for someone experienced (or able to sneak up behind) to disarm him. Nothing you can do about someone with a gun but run, hide, and hope he goes in a different direction.

        Some would suggest that's why you want "good guys with a gun" but getting in a shootout in a public place with other people around may make things worse, and when cops arrive they won't know you weren't part of the attack so you might end up dead.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Stabby stab

          "Nothing you can do about someone with a gun but run, hide, and hope he goes in a different direction."

          One could say the same about a motorcycle or car. Or a truck full of improvised explosives.

          Let's ban motorcycles, cars and trucks! Won't all y'all think of the children?

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Stabby stab

            The Onion - ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

            In the days following a violent rampage in southern California in which a lone attacker killed seven individuals, including himself, and seriously injured over a dozen others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Tuesday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place.

            “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said North Carolina resident Samuel Wipper, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations.

            “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this guy from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what he really wanted.”

            1. richdin

              Re: Stabby stab

              The states with the STRICTEST gun laws - have the highest statistics of gun crime.

              Maine on the other hand passed a law allowing permit-less concealed carry... and for the last 4 years, no gun crime.

              Australia forced the people to give up their weapons - and gun crime has SOARED.

              Switzerland has an assault rifle (a real one, not a scary lookalike) in every home - yet no one is being gunned down on a daily basis.

              Ask the REAL reason why they are trying to take civilian guns away...

              1. teebie

                Re: Stabby stab

                These gun crimes ... how many of them are possessing a gun? Because the numbers of crimes for possessing something tend to go up when you make it illegal.

                The aim isn't to reduce the number in a report marked 'gun crime' it's to reduce the number of shootings.

              2. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

                Re: Stabby stab

                Those Swiss firearms are in the hands of people trained to use them, following military service, not any member of the public who just fancies owning a gun. They also have no ammunition - that's only handed out in the event of an invasion.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Stabby stab

                "Maine on the other hand passed a law allowing permit-less concealed carry... and for the last 4 years, no gun crime."

                It probably helps in having little crime when you're only looking at a state with about a million people in it and no large cities to speak of. When you compare it to a larger state where there are multiple cities that have more people than the entire state of Maine, there's a chance for higher levels of crime. Also, I have to wonder if you were somehow not watching news, because you picked a really bad example for a state with no recent gun crime:

                Date: October 25, 2023

                Location: Lewiston, Maine, United States

                Victims: 18 killed, 13 injured

                Really, you had states you could have used for an argument that didn't have a mass shooting less than two weeks ago. Did you not know that happened?

              4. gr00001000

                Australian gun crime

                Nonsense Australian gun crime has not soared. Don't know what you are reading buddy.

                229 total in 2019

                209 total in 2018

                196 total in 2017

          2. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Stabby stab

            Let's ban motorcycles, cars and trucks! Won't all y'all think of the children?

            Toddler in hospital after dumped gun discharges at Las Vegas playground

            Child in stable but critical condition after being injured by gun used in bus shooting before suspect ditched it while fleeing

            What would you ban here, the bus or the gun?

            1. Blergh

              Re: Stabby stab

              Ban the playground

          3. Brad Ackerman
            Mushroom

            Re: Stabby stab

            Let's ban motorcycles, cars and trucks! Won't all y'all think of the children?

            Banning Chelsea tractors would be a quick win. Cars need a weight tax. But what's needed for safety in the US (unless leftpondia has seen a recent influx of monster trucks) are German driving education requirements, actual safety standards that consider people outside of the vehicle (this one is in progress, but slowly), and a fsckton of bollards.

          4. stiine Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Stabby stab

            They're on their way, Jake. They're on their way. Pretty soon we'll be hearing that they are bannig sticks of butter because they can be used as weapons.

        2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Re: Stabby stab

          Nothing you can do about someone with a gun is run, hide, and hope he goes in a different direction.

          The effectiveness of that action depends upon how close/far the attacker with the gun is from you. Within a particular distance, it makes more sense to jump in close and attack the gunner with whatever you've got, because at that particular closeness, he's unlikely to miss you, and you -- or at least I -- cannot outrun a bullet. (I don't know what the attack-the-gunner/flee-the-gunner cut-over distance is.) Hollywood imagery aside, concealment is not cover. Concealment is a visual barrier between you and your attacker. Concealment does not stop bullets. True cover is relatively rare in modern urban/household environments.

        3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Re: Stabby stab

          Critical phrase: when the cops arrive. By the time the cops arrive, you're probably already dead, bleeding out, or fortunately-still-alive, and the shooting all is over. If you are a good guy and you do have a gun in that situation, you'd better have put it down and put some distance between you and it before the cops arrive.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stabby stab

            What is "a good guy" doing with a gun in the first place?

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Stabby stab

              What is "a good guy" doing with a gun in the first place?

              Looking to be John Wayne and shoot a bad guy.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Stabby stab

              What is "a good guy" doing with a gun in the first place?

              That's a question which would be beyond the comprehension of a lot of the US population.

          2. richdin

            Re: Stabby stab

            When seconds count... the police are but minutes away!

        4. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Stabby stab

          Being obsessed with only one woman hasn't stopped previous nutters from killing multiple people. Some incels are mad at society as a whole for their inability to get laid so they won't limit their attacks to just women who have rejected them.

          I admit to have wandered a little way down this rabbit hole after being told I was 'based' and had 'red-pilled'. And had no idea wtf they were talking about. In which I learned that incels are really vcels, namely voluntarily celebate. They don't understand the dating game, hang around in echo chambers online and can't understand why they can't find a woman that might be interested in them. Then at the opposite end, there's the 'dating gurus' that have elaborate rating systems, pick up routines and convince their followers that they're not a man unless they're getting laid every night and twice on saturdays. Superficial relationships for superficial people, and the 'players' will probably end up being vcels, propping up a bar somewhere, trying chat-up lines on people that just aren't interested.

          But I blame the media. And it's not just men that are being affected. Women also wonder where all the good men have gone, but the media's been busily empowering women and trying to convince everyone that men are all mysogynists out for one thing. So maybe both men & women are being bombarded with confusing, contradictory and often bizarre ideas about what 21st Century dating and relationships should be. For me, my 'aha!' moment was finally figuring out what women meant when they said "Just be yourself". Vcels just haven't figured that out yet, and if all they want to do is get laid, perhaps they should consider transactional relationships. Real relationships take time and effort though.

          But I also blame the media for creating the whole 'incel' meme in the first place. Crazy obsessives have always existed, but now we've created unsafe spaces and boxes to put them in. Now, this person is famous as an incel or terrorist, rather than just being an obssessed nutjob. Plus this is only going to fuel conspiracies. There's already a bunch of nutters who think THEY are using MKUltra techniques to programme innocent people into going on rampages, probably through 5G and the nanotech in the vaccines.

          Some would suggest that's why you want "good guys with a gun" but getting in a shootout in a public place with other people around may make things worse, and when cops arrive they won't know you weren't part of the attack so you might end up dead.

          Agreed, but this is also part of the conspiracy. People are being programmed to commit spree killings so THEY can disarm the population and exert even more control! Personally, I think there are benefits to allowing reasonable self-defence, but also huge risks. People shouldn't be allowed to carry firearms without a lot of training, but sometimes, they could save lives. I also think the laws on self-defence have probably swung too far. Criminals aren't going to care, and offensive weapons are just things that get used offensively. The law should punish people for using things to cause harm, not simply for possessing them.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: Stabby stab

            So maybe both men & women are being bombarded with confusing, contradictory and often bizarre ideas about what 21st Century dating and relationships should be

            That's hardly something new. Prior to "women's lib" in the 60s/70s women were told they were "old maids" if they weren't married by 25, and they should stay at home, take care of the children and have a drink and the evening paper ready for their husband when he came home from work. Men were expected to work as hard as required to be the sole breadwinner, even if it meant he doesn't have time to be much of a father as his kids grow up. Before that marriages were often arranged, and things were even worse.

            Things may be screwy today, but they have been screwy in various ways for all of human history.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stabby stab

            " People are being programmed to commit spree killings so THEY can disarm the population and exert even more control! "

            is this your own conspiracy?

            did you just rail against conspiracies then make one up?

            get some help!

            your rather confusing

          3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Stabby stab

            People are being programmed to commit spree killings so THEY can disarm the population

            Conspiracy theorist much?

            It's telling that in Switzerland (with similar levels of gun ownership) the levels of gun killing are a tiny fraction of those in the US.

        5. teebie

          Re: Stabby stab

          The only way to stop a bad guy with a knife, if a good guy with a narwhal tusk

      3. Brian 3

        Re: Stabby stab

        threats to society, are you talking about the NSA or GCHQ?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Stabby stab

          At least the MI5 ones have the decency to stab themselves to death and then lock themselves into a sportsbag

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            Re: Stabby stab

            decency to stab themselves to death and then lock themselves into a sportsbag

            And leave a conundrum for those left behind to work out how it was done

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Stabby stab

              What conundrum? Special branch said he stabbed himself and locked himself in the sports bag -

              You going to argue with the police ?

      4. Tron Silver badge

        Re: Stabby stab

        Blaming social media for this and demanding censorship is ridiculous. Maybe instead ask why GCHQ had such crappy vetting of people it was employing.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Stabby stab

          "Maybe instead ask why GCHQ had such crappy vetting of people it was employing."

          Maybe GCHQ struggle for staff & too enthusiastic vetting, post employment monitoring would mean big shortages?.

          I would guess a big proportion of people with the skills to work at GCHQ, would not consider it as it goes against their moral code in some way (be that privacy intrusion, following the agenda of a corrupt and morally bankrupt government etc.)

  2. JessicaRabbit

    Terrible what happened but it never ceases to amaze me that with the level of surveillance these organizations are perpetrating against their own citizens that they can't even figure out when there's a terrorist working for them.

    1. Trev 2

      He wasn't working for them by this time and it doesn't say when he left (could have been years ago). Possibly recognised the victim or maybe just saw them driving out of GCHQ.

      Never underestimate the ability of someone to look relatively normal when they are evil (found that out from personal experience).

  3. bofh1961

    Irrelevances

    The criminal and the victim's employers are irrelevant. The choice of weapon is irrelevant. What is relevant is that a criminal who has intricately planned and then attempted murder hasn't been given a whole life sentence when it's obvious that he's a psychopath who should never be allowed to return to society.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid American spelling again

    Cheltenham and the rest of the UK has leisure centres, not leisure centers

    American spelling can just fuck off.

    1. abend0c4

      Re: Stupid American spelling again

      The UK has leisure centres

      In rapidly diminishing numbers: I think the existential threat is perhaps more important than the orthography.

  5. stewwy

    With NSA and GCHQ involved, it's unlikely we are seeing any truths in this.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cover ups

    I worked in an MOD research department some thirty odd years ago. A colleague was given a gun licence despite being a violent and aggressively-racist drunk.

    (The racist drunk behaviour I saw first hand when we were setting up an exercise for the army. I'll never forget the horror in the faces of the staff of the kebab house! I apologised profusely and dragged him out of there)

    The MOD security types and section managers threatened us with multiple 'sanctions' if we were to ever breathe a word to the Press.

    We were sworn to secrecy. Hence AC.

    It's always made me wonder how much other 'embarrassing' and nasty shit is covered up our glorious security services.

    Story...

    When his partner said she'd had enough, he went upstairs and shot her twice while she slept.

    Luckily the first shot went into the pillow, but the second one hit her in the neck - which sprayed blood up the walls.

    She had the incredible presence of mind to lay there and 'play dead.' Our brave would-be murderer then went downstairs and blew his unhinged brains out.

    Thankfully, she survived, but will carry the scars, mental and physical for the rest of her life.

    I've always felt guilty as the racist attack happened only two weeks before the attempted murder. Perhaps I could have done something??

    The trouble is, my pistol-toting colleague was the model of proprietary when he was sans alcohol and was always well-behaved at work. AFAIK he had no convictions or cautions for violent disorder.

    No-one would have believed me if I had said anything.

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