'Juvenile' TV science fan jailed for making pipe bombs

Kennmoor Close, Warmley
Image caption Eighty homes were evacuated in Warmley in 2013 after a pipe bomb was found

A science fan who made six pipe bombs after being inspired by a television show has been jailed for six months.

Michael Thomas, 40, was part of a group of friends who made the explosive devices before taking them to a quarry in Corsham, Wiltshire, to detonate.

But one was accidently carried home in a sports bag by Thomas, who placed it in his shed in 2006.

It was found in 2013 and 80 homes were evacuated while the police and an Army bomb squad were called in.

The bomb squad carried out a controlled explosion at nearby Barrs Court Park, while residents took shelter for five hours in a nearby supermarket.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Bristol Crown Court heard the bomb was found when Thomas's ex-wife cleared out the shed

Bristol Crown Court heard Thomas separated from his wife in 2010 and on 17 August 2013 she decided to clear out his shed at their former marital home in Kennmoor Close in Warmley, near Bristol.

Prosecuting, Nicholas O'Brien said: "She found a sports bag and having opened it she saw a number of pellets and a copper pipe, with green cord poking out the end.

"It is serious and dangerous but really it seems to be a rather juvenile, amateur interest in explosives."

Thomas was arrested in Somerset the following day and officers who searched his computer discovered material relating to making explosives.

The stock controller later admitted a charge of making an explosive substance.

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Image caption Judge Michael Roach said Thomas's behaviour in Kennmoor Close was "reckless"

Judge Michael Roach said the incident was a "serious offence" and those "reckless enough" to build such devices should go to prison.

"There's no doubt at all that this is a serious offence. On any view you were enormously reckless," he told him.

"I accept that there was no sinister purpose of that device but the potential for it being on a street, unguarded, available in a residential area makes it obvious that the risks were significant."

Representing Thomas, Sam Jones said his client, who moved to Bridgwater in Somerset, was a hard-working family man in a new relationship, and with two young children.

Mr Jones said one of the bombs was set off inside a microwave, "inspired by a programme called Brainiac".

As Thomas was led to the cells, the judge said: "What a sad day for your family."

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