Lincoln man admits possessing ‘light machine guns’ after Woodhall Spa mustard gas probe

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A Lincoln man who has admitted possessing mustard cannisters following a major chemical scare near Woodhall Spa pleaded guilty to further charges of possession of two prohibited light machine guns on Tuesday.

Martyn Tasker, 40, is one of three people who have pleaded guilty to a breach of the Chemical Weapons Act by possessing mustard gas canisters.

Tasker was also due to face trial at Lincoln Crown Court in March accused of two firearms offences. But at a hearing at Lincoln Crown Court this morning (February 4) Tasker admitted two charges of possessing a prohibited weapon on October 4, 2017.

The charges relate to a mark two Bren light machine gun and a mark three Bren light machine gun.

Tasker, of Longdales Road, Lincoln, was granted bail and will now be sentenced alongside his wife Michaela Tasker, 31, of the same address, and Stuart Holmes, 50, of Witham Road, Woodhall Spa.

Martyn and Michaela Tasker (left) and Stuart Holmes (right) at a previous hearing at Lincoln Crown Court. Photo: Steve Daniels

All three defendants had previously admitted possessing mustard gas cannisters between September 27 and October 1, 2017.

The three also admitted breaching environmental protection laws by causing the discharge of mustard gas into Stixwould Lake near Woodhall Spa, on September 30, 2017.

The charges follow the discovery of 150 mustard gas canisters on the site of a former military base at Roughton Woods, near Woodhall Spa, which led police to declare a major incident. Bottle diggers needed hospital treatment after they found and disturbed the mustard gas.

Photo: Guy Owen for Lincolnshire Reporter

Specialists from Porton Down were brought in by the Ministry of Defence and the area was sealed off for a fortnight. The subsequent clean-up operation cost almost £300,000 to carry out.

Holmes has also admitted disposing of mustard gas in a manner likely to cause pollution to the environment or harm to public health between September 28 and October 1, 2017.

Judge John Pini QC has ordered pre-sentence reports to be prepared on all three defendants who will be sentenced by a High Court judge on a date to be fixed.

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