Fireworks fanatic admits storing explosives haul

A DAD who “enjoyed the bangs of fireworks” sparked a major alert after being caught with explosives in his Edinburgh flat.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 11th April 2012, 1:02 pm

Police swooped on Lee-Jay Newman after films of him setting off charges were found on his old computer by its new owner.

Specialist bomb disposal teams were called to his Wester Hailes home last July where they found chemicals, which could make 1.5kg of explosives.

An explosives expert told the Evening News that the hoard “was certainly enough to do damage” but there was no suggestion in court that Newman was anything other than a fireworks fanatic.

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Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard police were first alerted to the video which showed people setting off explosives in the woodland.

When he was caught the unemployed father of two admitted he had been a “fool”, but said the materials were only for pyrotechnics.

Father-of-two Newman, 34, pleaded guilty to having explosives and explosive incendiaries. Sentence was deferred until next month.

Fiscal depute Isabel Clark told the court that a Crown witness and his son were stripping down the hard drive of a broken laptop they had bought when they discovered the video.

She said: “The witnesses observed video clips of men in camouflage detonating what appeared to be explosives.

“They were concerned and contacted the police. Police carried out inquiries which led them to the accused.”

Police searched the top-floor flat in Dumbryden Gardens and found several chemical substances in an attic “den”, Ms Clark said.

She continued: “When the accused was placed into the [police] vehicle he said to the police officers ‘I know what this is about. There’s a can in the loft with thermite black powder in it’.”

Ms Clark said there was no evidence Newman had mixed the substances together to form explosives.

She continued: “Forensic examination was such that there were chemicals there with potential to mix to form an explosive or an explosive incendiary.”

Newman said he had travelled to a woodland area near Lanark Road with friends to set off “pyro rockets”, she said.

He obtained many of the substances legally, she added.

The fiscal depute continued: “He was very embarrassed about his actions.

“When charged he said ‘I have been a fool and I’m glad it’s being sorted’.”

His defence agent Rhona MacLeod said Newman was a “nervous” man who suffered from high blood pressure.

She said: “He has had an interest in fireworks. He has had interest in making them, and video them going off.

“It’s been an outdoor pursuit and a genuine interest. He enjoyed the bangs, the sound and the colours. He will never make a firework again.”

Explosives expert Andy Oppenheimer told the Evening News: “There’s no doubt that he has learned quite a bit about the type of ingredients needed for a bomb – 1.5 kilos is certainly enough to do damage – but it would depend on what he was trying to do with it.”