A former mayor of Denbigh has been jailed for 18 years after being found guilty of causing a series of explosions in the town earlier this year. The judge described 46-year-old John Larsen as carrying out "sustained campaign of quite deliberate terror". Lorna Prichard reports.
North Wales Police have welcomed the sentencing of former Denbigh mayor John Larsen saying the case showed how he 'betrayed the trust' of those in the community.
"This was a unique case. On one hand we had a man who publically presented as a pillar and voice of the local community who people went to for advice and comfort in a time of crisis; on the other we had a cold and calculating individual who quite obviously revelled in the attention he created for himself through the setting of improvised explosive devices in the Lenton Pool area of Denbigh.
"In the early part of 2013, the community of Lenton Pool was regularly awoken by a series of loud bangs. By April some residents were quite literally terrified.
"The community had been rocked by what became a series of explosions, culminating in the detonation of a metal ball bearing filled device causing extensive damage and firing shrapnel through a nearby house window. It is extremely fortunate that no one was seriously injured or in the vicinity at that particular time.
– Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Williams, North Wales Police
"During this period, John Larson came to the fore as a local leader and the community trusted him. He betrayed that trust in a terrible way and he now faces the consequences of his actions.
“We welcome the sentence passed today.”
North Wales Police have released images showing some of the explosive devices and materials used by former mayor John Larsen.
Sentencing John Larsen to 18 years in prison, Judge Merfyn Hughes said the former mayor had subjected the residents of Denbigh to "a sustained campaign of quite deliberate terror".
He said Larsen's victims were residents of the community he had been elected to serve. Hew said: "Even while detonating these devices, you continued the pretence of showing concern for their welfare and co-operating with the police."
He said Larsen's actions had caused two residents to sell their homes and move away out of fear. He said he was sure someone would have been killed or seriously injured if Larsen hadn't been stopped.
– Judge Merfyn Hughes
"The jury have seen your evidence for what it is. A dismal attempt to avoid responsibility by one lie after another."
The Crown Prosecution Service says the former mayor of Denbigh, John Larsen, caused "significant alarm and distress" to many residents, through "incredibly reckless behaviour."
John Larsen’s incredibly reckless behaviour caused damage to property, as well as significant alarm and distress to many residents of Lenten Pool. In many ways it is simply good fortune that his actions did not have far more serious consequences.John Larsen is an individual who has held positions of trust and responsibility within the local community and it is disappointing that he chose to abuse the trust that many local people had placed in him. He has failed to take any responsibility for his actions and it is right that he has now been forced to face up to his offences in a criminal court.
– Karen Dixon, District Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service Wales
I would like to commend North Wales Police for their first class investigation into these incidents, which enabled us to build a very strong prosecution case against Larsen. I would also like to thank all those who supported the prosecution as witnesses during the trial.
The judge, Merfyn Hughes QC, said that although John Larsen's actions in causing a series of explosions in Denbigh did not constitute terrorism in the usual sense, it was "a sustained campaign of quite deliberate terror."
Sentencing John Larsen at Caernarfon Crown Court, the judge said: "If you hadn't been arrested, I'm entirely satisfied you would have killed someone or caused serious injury."
Merfyn Hughes QC said the former mayor of Denbigh had abused the trust of local people, and cared nothing for vulnerable residents living nearby.
The former mayor of Denbigh, John Larsen, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison, after being found guilty of causing a series of explosions in the town earlier this year.
Colin L Hughes, who served alongside John Larsen on Denbigh Town Council, said he was one of the last people you would suspect of causing the explosions.
He told our reporter Lorna Prichard "it's difficult for me to say anything negative" about the former mayor - it was "a shock, to a lot of people" to learn that he was responsible.
The former mayor of Denbigh, John Larsen, had been reporting the explosions, which he caused himself, to the police.
He claimed he found a device planted in an advertising board, and told the shop owners.
Helen Richards, a worker at the shop in Denbigh, said it was "strange", as they had not even noticed, so they told the police to check on Larsen.