Lincolnshire

Woodhall Spa mustard gas accused trio appear in court

Gas canister Image copyright Lincolnshire Police
Image caption About 150 mustard gas canisters were found in woodland and in a lake near Woodhall Spa

Three people have appeared in court accused of possessing and dumping mustard gas canisters in a lake.

About 150 canisters of the highly noxious substance were unearthed in and around Roughton Woods, near Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, in October 2017.

Martyn Tasker, Michaela Tasker and Stuart Holmes appeared before Lincoln magistrates charged with a number of offences.

All were bailed until 12 September when they are due at the city's crown court.

Martyn Tasker, 39, of Longdales Road, Lincoln, is charged with having a working Bren machine gun, possession of mustard gas canisters and discharging mustard gas into fresh inland waters.

Michaela Tasker, 31, also of Longdales Road, Lincoln, is charged with possession of mustard gas canisters and discharging mustard gas into fresh inland waters.

Stuart Holmes, 50, of Witham Road, Woodhall Spa, is accused of having mustard gas canisters, depositing mustard gas in Roughton Woods, Lincolnshire, depositing mustard gas in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health, and discharging mustard gas into fresh inland waters.

Image copyright Royal Navy
Image caption Military experts had to be called to remove the mustard gas canisters

The charges have been brought jointly by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Environment Agency, the court heard.

Police declared a "major incident" after the canisters were first discovered on the former World War Two military base at Roughton Woods.

Army bomb squad officers were called in and further testing was carried out at the specialist Porton Down military research laboratory.

Two people were treated in hospital for minor burns and respiratory problems when they unearthed the canisters while digging for vintage bottles in the woods.

Mustard gas was used as a weapon during World War One and outlawed by the Geneva Protocol of 1925.

The military shut down RAF Woodhall Spa, which had been a satellite of the main RAF Coningsby site, in the mid-1960s.


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