Denbigh explosions left residents 'terrified', trial hears

John Larsen Former Denbigh Mayor John Larsen denies all the charges against him

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A trial of a former mayor accused of setting off explosives has heard how residents were left "terrified".

John Larsen, of Lenten Pool, Denbigh, is accused of blowing up a car and causing other explosions near his home.

The 46-year-old denies three arson charges, one of causing an explosion and two of possessing explosives - one with intent to endanger life.

Caernarfon Crown Court heard Lenten Pool was plagued by the sound of loud bangs at night.

The incidents took place two or three times a week, culminating in an attack on a Land Rover in March, the court was told.

The prosecution told the jury there was a "compelling" case against Mr Larsen, who was a local town councillor and had been mayor of Denbigh in 1999.

Start Quote

They were humongous. They were more than fireworks, it was like a bomb”

End Quote Shirley Clarke Lenten Pool resident giving evidence about the explosions

Mr Larsen might have been "getting a thrill from what he was doing and the attention it was generating," the court heard.

Lenten Pool resident Shirley Clarke described how explosive bangs began in January this year.

"People often said they were fireworks - they were not fireworks," she told the court.

"They were humongous. They were more than fireworks, it was like a bomb."

Mrs Clarke, who is a nurse, told the jury that the booms and bangs got louder as the incidents escalated in the following weeks.

"I was terrified," she stressed.

She told the court how she stopped sleeping in a front room bedroom at night while her husband worked away and instead shared a bedroom with her 14-year-old son.

On 14 March, she found her Audi car, parked on a patch of waste ground near the house, had been damaged.

The car bonnet had been burned and the windscreen and wings damaged.

"It had burned through the windscreen," she said.

A few days later, she returned home to find glass in the porch had been smashed.

'Gunpowder mix'

Then on 24 March, her family were woken just after midnight by a loud explosion after a device was set-off under the Land Rover.

She told the court how she had rushed out on to the street with her husband and son.

They found the windows in the porch had smashed with ball-bearings lying inside the porch.

Upstairs, her front bedroom window had also been smashed and another ball-bearing was found.

"It had come through the window. I had a pine headboard and it had hit the pine headboard before ricocheting from there," Mrs Clarke told the jury.

She agreed with the prosecutor that the only reason she had not been in the bed at the time was because she had fallen asleep on the sofa.

Since the episodes, Mrs Clarke and her family have sold their home and moved out of the area. She told the court the incidents in Lenten Pool had prompted the move.

Mr Larsen was arrested by police at his nearby home on 19 April.

Police found a manual on pyrotechnics in the house, a computer file named "gunpowder mix", modified fireworks and rockets, and ball-bearings.

The court has heard that he told police he had a legitimate interest in fireworks and had bought some materials online.

He denies all charges against him and the case continues.

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