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Explosives hoarder escapes jail

A man obsessed with fireworks who hoarded enough explosives to blow up his own house as well as his neighbours' has avoided jail.

Benjamin Harris, 30, from East Sussex, admitted producing the dangerous substances but insisted it was only to feed his fascination for pyrotechnics.

He was handed a suspended jail sentence and an anti-social behaviour order banning him from possessing fireworks for five years and trawling the internet for explosives.

The court heard how police uncovered Harris' stash when they raided his home in Highcroft Crescent in Heathfield on March 13th 2013. They seized a quantity of black powders, pyrotechnic fuses, chemicals to make improvised fireworks, a small number of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and commercial fireworks.

In the opinion of a bomb disposal expert, Harris had shown a "reckless disregard for his own safety and his neighbours" and could have caused a "significant explosion that could have caused severe structural damage as well as injury", prosecutor William Hays said.

Harris had stored in his home enough material to make hundreds of improvised explosives, he said. He added: "It is perhaps plainly obvious that attempting to mix explosives in a coffee grinder is extremely dangerous and reckless."

The fireworks taken from his home appeared to have come from Poland and the instructions were not even in English, the court heard.

At a previous hearing, Harris had pleaded guilty to two counts of having an explosive substance and one count of making an explosive substance. He also admitted breaching health and safety and producing cannabis.

Handing him two years suspended for two years for the explosives charges, Judge Christopher Moss QC said: "To sentence you to immediate imprisonment bearing in mind your psychological background would be so detrimental to your situation as to make it unthinkable."

Harris was also give a three month jail sentence suspended for 12 months for the cannabis charge. He denied having five documents useful for terrorism at the time of his arrest and those charges were left on file.


Explosives expert calls for ship survey

A maritime munitions expert, Michael Fellows, says the cost of decommissioning explosives from the SS Montgomery would be in the region of £3m. The ship, packed with 1400 tons of explosives, has lain derelict in the Thames Estuary since 1944.

Mr Fellows thinks annual surveys of the ship, carried out for the Department for Transport by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, are not detailed enough as they look solely at the ship, not the state of the munitions.

He's warning that if the explosives were detonated, there could be a large loss of life locally and that plans to build an airport in the Estuary will require that the ship is made safe.

'Explosive' chocolate cake sparks airport security alert

A major security alert at a busy airport has been sparked ... by a chocolate birthday cake. It set off an automatic alarm when it was detected in hand luggage.

Justin Barrett, from Kent, had bought the cake for his son's birthday and was about to fly out from Stansted when he was stopped and searched.

Security staff at first suspected the cake might contain explosives but it was given the all-clear. So what was in it that triggered the emergency?

Click below for the full report from Tom Savvides