Two youths who hatched a fanciful plan to stage a mass attack with guns and homemade weapons at a South Australian high school have been released on good behaviour bonds.
The pair, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to aggravated threatening life over their plans to attack both teachers and students.
The 18 and 20-year-old were initially charged with conspiring to murder but in February pleaded guilty to the downgraded offences after prosecutors conceded they never intended to carry out their threats.
In the Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Kevin Nicholson imposed six-month jail sentences on the pair but suspended the terms, placing them on three-year good behaviour bonds.
Justice Nicholson said he had taken into account their age and other factors, including the 18 months they had spent in detention since being arrested.
The judge said the youths, who were 16 and 18 at the time of their offending, had wanted to create a fear that their plan would likely be carried out.
However, he said he accepted they never intended to commit murder.
"Your plan was to frighten, to terrify and to present yourself to your school associates and perhaps the wider community as school shooters who meant business," Justice Nicholson said.
The older youth had developed what the judge said was a "strong and obsessive" interest in US-style school shootings, something that was known to other students.
His co-offender had also spoken of a desire to source guns to "shoot up" and scare teachers and students.
Justice Nicholson said the pair had jointly contributed to the formation of the plan despite it ultimately becoming a "fantasy".
He said they used violence and aggressive language and their apparent intentions were "shocking and terrifying".
Justice Nicholson said the threats caused considerable fear and anxiety both among students, teachers and their families and the wider community.
"The threats were of an extreme nature that tapped into an ever-present, if at times repressed, powerful community fear, the fear that the community might experience an appalling mass school shooting of the type that has become all too common in the United States of America," he said.
"This was not a case of an offender threatening and putting in fear a single victim.
"Yours was a case where a significant sector of the local community was put in fear."
However, Justice Nicholson said in his view the pair had been in custody long enough and both they and the community would be best served by their immediate release.
Australian Associated Press