Published: April 13, 2012
Burnham-On-Sea man jailed for two years on explosives charges

A Burnham-On-Sea man was sentenced to two years jail on Friday (April 13th) for making explosives in a shed at his home in the town.

Phillip Leonard, 35, pleaded guilty to four counts of making explosives when he appeared at Taunton Crown Court in February and today he was sentenced to two years in prison for each offence. These will be served concurrently.

It comes after police executed a warrant under the Explosives Act on January 20th at a property in Beatty Way, Burnham. The Explosives Ordnance Disposal team attended the address and removed some items for safe disposal.

Mr Leonard was arrested at the property and enquiries were quickly able to rule out any link to terrorism or domestic extremism.

With public safety the key priority, a 100m cordon was set up covering almost 100 homes, as Burnham-On-Sea.com reported here.

Around 30 people were evacuated to a nearby rest centre and were only able to return to their homes at 10pm when the cordon was removed.

Speaking after the court case today, Chief Superintendent Daimon Tilley said: "This was a serious incident which caused significant disruption to the local community. While there was no malicious intent in Leonard's actions he must accept that he put the safety of his own family, his neighbours and the responding public services at risk and caused local residents to leave their homes for more than twelve hours."

"Since this incident we have had to issue another warrant under the Explosives Act in connection with a separate investigation in Taunton. People need to realise that chemicals are dangerous and are not simply something which can be played with out of boredom, curiosity or even worse with the intent to cause harm to others. Public safety will always be our main concern and we will put in place an appropriate response. This inevitably causes disruption to the community and ties up valuable police resources."

"I hope that the police response on this occasion shows we take incidents such as these seriously and deters others from experimenting with dangerous substances."

Judge Stephen O'Malley, at Taunton Crown Court, told Leonard he needed to realise the gravity of his actions.

"What the investigators, police and others, found in January when they raided your home was a potentially very dangerous situation with four different explosive substances which singularly or combined had the potential to cause serious injury to people and property. My main purpose in sentencing you has to be to bring home to you and others the gravity of what you did."

Patrick Mason, defending, said Leonard had been on anti-depressants for 10 years and had been a "bit of a recluse".

He said Leonard had an interest in pyrotechnics for a long time and being "a relatively intelligent man" he was able to quickly produce explosives.

His defence insisted there was "nothing sinister in what he was doing, and for him, "explosives were just a hobby, a fascination".

FURTHER COVERAGE OF THE BEATTY WAY INVESTIGATION:

'TV led to explosives interest', court hears
Burnham pleads guilty to explosives charges
Police praise goodwill of residents
Burnham resident charged after explosives raid
Evacuation centre praised by residents
Beatty Way cordon lifted by police
Photos of the police investigation in Beatty Way
Recycling collections delayed by police probe
Police confirm incident 'was not terrorism related'
Video of the army bomb disposal team at the scene


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