In the Media

Electrician built and blew up home-made bombs for fun

PUBLISHED September 4, 2012

An electrician who built and set off home-made explosives told police: "Some people collect stamps. I make bombs."

Paul Smith was so taken with his unusual pastime that his family even bought him a birthday cake in February in the shape of a bomb, carrying the message: "Paul 40 today. Hope it goes with a bang"

But his decade-long habit was brought to an end in April when neighbours became fed up with the blasts setting off their car alarms.

When police were called to his home in Hull they discovered a workshop including two live pipe bombs, 20 to 30 detonators, two battery packs and a sophisticated halogen light operating trigger. He had bought his supplies from the internet where he also picked up his bomb-making skills.

Other material found included shotgun cartridges, bullets, gunpowder and chemicals including sulphur, iron oxide and magnesium.

Prosecutor Richard Woolfall told Hull Crown Court: "There was a mixture of sugar and aluminum of the type used in North Ireland and by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Some of the items were so unstable they were unsuitable for being transferred."

The Army bomb disposal team from Cattterick was called to make his home safe.

Smith pleaded guilty to one charge of possession of a class B drug and another charge of making or possession of explosives under suspicious circumstances.

When questioned by the police he said: "I don't know what all the fuss is about. Everyone knows I make small bombs. Some people collect stamps, I make small bombs. Even my birthday cake was bomb shaped."

His defence barrister David Gordon said: "He is a somewhat naïve 40-year-old who thought he would be allowed to conduct his hobby in this way without the police becoming involved.

"He has been in custody now for five months and does not find it at all pleasurable. He is not a terrorist. He does not have any radical religious or political opinions. He does have an unhealthy interest in explosive devices."

Judge Michael Mettyear told Smith: "It was an incredibly stupid and dangerous thing to do. You are not a stupid man. Explosions are dangerous, particularly when someone has a history of taking drugs.

"When I first looked at this case I thought I would require a long prison sentence. However you have served time in custody and it is appropriate that I do something constructive with you."

He imposed a 15-month supervision order, with a drug rehabilitation programme and 150 hours unpaid work in the community.

The judge also imposed a ten-year Anti Social Behavour Order on Smith banning him from possession flares or fireworks which are not commercially available and ordered the destruction of the bomb making equipment.