Criminal Charges For The Use Of Explosives
The Use of Explosives in Criminal Offences
A large proportion of recent offences using explosives have been related to cash machine theft, as opposed to the Guy Fawkes style attacks of centuries passed. The law surrounding the use of explosives is old but still very relevant today; it may not be appreciated that a separate, more serious offence, may be being committed when explosives are used to facilitate another offence.
What is THE offence?
The Explosives Act 1883 makes it an offence to cause an explosion which is likely to, or intended to endanger people or damage property. It is also an offence to hold explosives with the intention to cause damage.
Are these offences serious?
These are extremely serious offences which are punishable with life imprisonment and can only be dealt with at the Crown Court.
What are explosives?
Petrol bombs, gunpowder, nitro glycerine, dynamite, fireworks and ammunition are examples of things which would be considered as explosives.
What about offences involving cash machines?
It has been suggested it would be beneficial to have deterrent sentences that would be given when explosives are used to steal from cash machines. Lengthy sentences are given when there is a charge under the Explosives Act and the offence of burglary/theft, as there are likely to be consecutive sentences.
In a case where a cash machine was blown apart using oxygen and acetylene following remote ignition causing costs of replacement and damage of nearly £40,000, the sentencing for the explosives alone was 12 years. This offence was to steal £19, 170 cash.
In another recent case of conspiracy to cause an explosion and burgle commercial premises, one of the first gangs in this country to use explosives to attack cash machines, one of the main offenders received 15 years imprisonment on a guilty plea.
Are there other offences?
A further offence is attempting to cause an explosion with intent to endanger life or property.
For offences that do not involve burglary and cash machines, serious sentences are also imposed. A man who assembled an explosive device with a view to targeting his ex-wife and social workers was given ten years imprisonment. Fifteen years was upheld by the Court of Appeal for a man who was manufacturing letter bombs, for an IED device on an aircraft 22 years imprisonment.
There is a further offence of making or possessing explosives in suspicious circumstances which attracts lower sentences. A defendant who made three devices from empty gas canisters containing a mixture of weed killer and sugar, for example, was given three and a half years imprisonment, another defendant aged 18 of good character who made a homemade pipe bomb out of curiosity was given eight months.
How we can help?
You can see from the examples above that there is a wide range of sentencing options dependent on the offence charged.
We will assess the evidence in your case to make sure that the correct case strategy is deployed. If you would like further advice in respect of these offences or any aspect of your case, please contact us on 0161 477 1121 or email us.