North East Wales

Ex-Denbigh Mayor John Larsen 'blew up car for thrill'

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Media captionCaernarfon Crown Court heard John Larsen had an "active interest in pyrotechnics"

A former mayor got a "thrill" from setting off dangerous explosives near his home, a court has heard.

John Larsen, 46, of Lenten Pool, Denbigh, is accused of blowing up a car and causing a string of other explosions near where he lived.

Caernarfon Crown Court heard he had an "active interest in pyrotechnics".

The ex-Denbigh mayor denies three arson charges, one of causing an explosion and two of possessing explosives - one with intent to endanger life.

At the start of his trial, a jury of six men and six women was told that in February 2013 a series of small explosions occurred in the town which damaged a number of cars.

It led to a "main explosion" on 24 March when a device, akin to a bomb, was placed under a Land Rover Discovery in Denbigh.

The explosion damaged the vehicle, along with one parked beside it, while ball-bearings and shrapnel from the device were thrown "far and in all directions".

"Windows were smashed. These events brought fear to the local community," said prosecuting barrister Wyn Lloyd Jones.

"He was living right in the middle of it, a matter of a few feet from where that improvised explosive device had exploded.

"At the time he was a local councillor. He was well-known within the local community. In 1999 he had been mayor of Denbigh. He was a member of the local neighbourhood watch.

"Not surprisingly there was media interest in what was going on and the defendant voiced his opinions."

'Strong and compelling'

The prosecution said it believed Mr Larsen was behind the explosions as they stopped after he was arrested on 19 April.

"There is a strong and compelling case against the defendant proving he was responsible," said Mr Lloyd Jones.

"The prosecution don't have to prove a motive but it is highly likely the defendant was getting a thrill from what he was doing and the attention these events were generating.

"Items recovered by police from his home, from his computer, reveal a most active interest on his part in pyrotechnics."

The barrister claimed Mr Larsen, who was working as a Liberal Democrat town councillor up until his arrest, had been experimenting with explosives.

He said that when Mr Larsen's computer was examined after his arrest there was a file dated 13 March headed "experimentation" which contained notes about charges, fuses, flash powder, "rockets and shells" and notes about various chemicals.

Hit headboard

Three days before that computer file had been created, there had been an early morning loud explosion near a local supermarket.

Mr Lloyd Jones said on 24 March a neighbour decided to keep watch from her bedroom to try and catch whoever was responsible for the bangs.

She saw Mr Larsen leave his home and bend down by vehicles parked on a traffic island including the Land Rover Discovery converted to run on liquid petroleum gas.

He returned home and minutes later there was an explosion which smashed windows at a house.

Ball-bearings were recovered and one had hit a headboard in an upstairs bedroom, the court was told.

"It's fortunate indeed there was nobody in that bed," Mr Lloyd Jones added.

"When one is talking of explosions and ball-bearings flying and metal fragments - shrapnel - the risk to life and property is obvious."

The case continues.