Electrician made deadly explosives in bomb factory at his east Hull home
A MAN made explosives that could have killed someone at his east Hull home.
Unemployed electrician Paul Smith developed an "unhealthy" appetite for bomb-making after losing his job, Hull Crown Court was told.
Officers raided the address in Holm Garth Drive, off Bellfield Avenue, and found a bomb-making workshop, complete with two devices, up to 30 detonators and chemicals.
Smith, 40, told police "Some people collect stamps, I make bombs."
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He has now pleaded guilty to "making or possessing an explosive substance under suspicious circumstances", under section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883, at a previous hearing.
Prosecutor Richard Woolfall said bomb disposal experts from the Army's Royal Logistic Corps had declared the bombs so unstable they could not risk transporting them back to their Catterick base, so detonated them safely in a field instead.
Mr Woolfall said: "The experts said these pipe bombs could have maimed or killed.
"They were similar in design to those used in Northern Ireland and by the Taliban in Afghanistan today.
"Information to build these devices is freely available on the internet."
Mr Woolfall said officers found chemicals including sulphur, iron oxide and magnesium – key ingredients of a bomb – in the brick-built outbuilding.
A pestle and mortar, used to blend the chemicals before they were placed inside tubes, was also found by officers.
Photographs of the bomb-making paraphernalia were shown to the court.
Smith also admitted possession of amphetamines, a class B drug, which he injected.
During taped police interviews, Smith had told officers he had made the bombs to impress his young nephews.
Smith, who denied wanting to injure anyone, said he would often take his homemade bombs to Mappleton beach, near Withernsea, to detonate.
Mr Woolfall said, prior to the police raid, there had been a number of "small explosions" at his parents' home.
He said: "On one occasion he had put something in a pan and forgotten about it. Some damage was done to the kitchen. In another incident, he blew a hole in a bucket in his garden."
Mr Woolfall said Smith had obtained some explosives for his bombs from wartime ordnance found on an East Riding beach.
He said: "Bomb-aimers would drop these munitions to cause a flash to allow them to determine how accurate they were."
Mr Woolfall said Smith, who began making bombs ten years ago, appeared unaware of the gravity of his actions.
He said: "He said bomb-making was a hobby and didn't think anything of it."
David Gordon, mitigating, said it was important to note Smith had not been charged with the more serious offence of "causing an explosion likely to endanger life or property", as covered under section 4 of the Act.
He said: "Understandably, there is sensitivity even to the slightest hint of someone possessing explosives. There have been terrorist attacks on the mainland in recent years.
"But the court can be comforted that the police have completed a thorough investigation into Mr Smith's background. He is no terrorist. He has no radical political or religious opinions.
"But he does have what might be regarded as a very unhealthy interest in making homemade explosive devices."
Mr Gordon said Smith did not keep his hobby a secret.
"It was well known that he was the man, who on family occasions, set off explosions for the entertainment of his family, friends and sometimes neighbours," he said.
"Of course, what he was doing was dangerous."
Mr Gordon showed to the court a photograph of a birthday cake given to Smith by his parents.
The cake, in the shape of a bomb, came complete with a candle for a "fuse". A message, spelled out in icing, said: "Paul 40 Today. Hope it goes with a bang".
Mr Gordon said his client was shocked by his arrest on April 3 this year.
He said: "He is somewhat of a naive 40-year-old to have supposed he could have been allowed to carry out his hobby without being disturbed by the police."
Mr Gordon said Smith had been taking amphetamines to "an increasing extent" after losing his job.
"The concerns of the police were entirely understandable," said Mr Gordon.
Sentencing, Judge Michael Mettyear said there was no need to add a custodial sentence to the five months Smith had spent on remand.
However, Judge Mettyear told Smith he would be serving a lengthy prison sentence if his actions had been politically or religiously motivated.
He added: "At your age, you should have known better."
Smith was given a ten-year Asbo, banning him from possessing explosives other than those "commercially available", such as fireworks.
He was also given a 12-month supervision order, a six-month drug rehabilitation order and told to complete 150 hours of unpaid community work.