February 1, 2021 2.16 pm This story is over 39 months old

Man jailed after explosives found in Lincoln flat

The block of flats had to be evacuated at the time

A man who had a stash of lethal explosives in his city centre flat was jailed for 30 months at Lincoln Crown Court on Monday.

Calvin Gatford, who was described as being interested in rockets and pyrotechnics, had a supply of the highly unstable explosive Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD) together with a quantity of potassium nitrate.

Some of the explosive material was inside bottles containing ball-bearings.

Daniel Bishop, prosecuting, said that a tin of Celebrations sweets tin found in the flat contained cardboard tubes which had a black powder inside with an activation device attached.

The material was discovered in February 2020 when police raided Gatford’s first floor flat in Clasket House on Clasketgate in the centre of Lincoln.

The block of flats was evacuated and the Army bomb disposal unit was called in to deal with what was found.

The bomb disposal unit on Clasketgate in Lincoln on February 13. | Photo: Connor Creaghan for The Lincolnite

Mr Bishop said: “The search of the property recovered a large number of chemicals, equipment, suspect improvised explosive devices and explosive substances. It included HMTD and quantities of chemicals that can be used to produce explosives such as potassium nitrate.

“There were four grammes of HMTD. It can detonate easily both intentionally and unintentionally. It is capable of causing serious injury or even death if initiated in close proximity.”

Mr Bishop said that the devices contained in the cardboard tubes were capable of causing a lesser level of harm than HMTD.

“He was interviewed. He said he had an interest in fireworks and model rockets. He said he wanted to make a replica of the Challenger Shuttle.”

Gatford, 50, of Clasket House, Lincoln, admitted two charges of possession of an explosive substance on February 13, 2020.

More serious charges of possession of an explosives device for an unlawful purpose were not pursued by the prosecution.

| Photo: Connor Creaghan for The Lincolnite

Michael Cranmer-Brown, for Gatford, told the court: “The possession of these chemicals was because of his interest in pyrotechnics. He had no criminal intent to use them to harm anybody or cause harm to property.

“This is a man who was irresponsible rather than somebody who had any malicious intent or any dangerous thoughts.

“He allowed himself to get carried away with his interest. He accepts that it carried a risk but that was more to himself than to anyone else. He has learned his lesson.”

Judge Simon Hirst, passing sentence, told Gatford: “This was a flat in a multi storey complex. The HMTD was capable of causing serious injury or even death if initiated close to someone. For someone close by the potential for harm was significant.

“In your case your intention, as accepted by the prosecution, was out of curiosity and interest.”

Investigating Officer DC Nial Evans of Lincolnshire Police said: “Calvin Gatford had an alarming interest in experimenting with dangerous chemicals and producing explosives, some of which were highly sensitive.

“Gatford conducted these experiments within his kitchen in a block of flats and it was only by pure luck that there wasn’t a large explosion causing serious injury or even death.

“The length of this sentence reflects the seriousness of this offence.”