Sussex

Heathfield man who mixed explosives in coffee grinder sentenced

A man who had so many homemade fireworks he could have blown up his house has been given a suspended sentence.

Benjamin Harris, of Heathfield, Sussex, was described by a bomb disposal expert as showing a "reckless disregard" for his safety and that of his neighbours.

The 30-year-old received a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, at the Old Bailey.

The prosecution told the court he tried to mix explosives in a coffee grinder.

'Significant explosion'

Harris previously admitted having and making explosive substances, breaching health and safety rules and possessing cannabis.

According to the bomb disposal expert, the 30-year-old could have caused a "significant explosion that could have caused severe structural damage as well as injury".

"It is perhaps plainly obvious that attempting to mix explosives in a coffee grinder is extremely dangerous and reckless," said prosecutor William Hays.

Police found enough fuses and chemicals to make hundreds of fireworks at Harris's home in Highcroft Crescent, Heathfield, in March 2013.

'Hoarders'

A USB stick containing manuals, text books and other documents relating to explosives was also discovered by officers.

Kieran Vaughan QC, defending, said Harris had been diagnosed as an obsessive compulsive and came from a "family of hoarders".

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 given the two-year suspended sentence for the explosives charges and a three-month jail term, suspended for 12 months, for possession of cannabis.

He was also given an anti-social behaviour order banning him from possessing fireworks for five years and trawling the internet for explosives.

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