May 18, 2021 1.56 pm This story is over 13 months old

Ex-Lincoln PCSO pleads guilty to explosives and illegal weapons charges

Back in custody until sentencing next month

A civilian Lincolnshire Police worker admitted making an improvised explosive device found following a search of her home.

Former PCSO Zoe Ashley Watts, 35, was arrested in October 2020 after police searched her semi-detached house in St Helens Avenue, Lincoln.

It followed concerns raised by the Border Force who had intercepted packages containing two butterfly knives a month earlier.

Watts today appeared at Lincoln Crown Court where she pleaded guilty to making an explosive substance, namely an improvised explosive device, between January 1 and October 4, 2020.

Zoe Watts with a collection of bats.

Andrew Peat, representing the prosecution, said the Crown accepted Watts’ account for why she had the device and other items, and would not pursue a trial on the matter.

Mr Peat told the court: “Unlike similar cases there is no evidence any of these items were possessed with an ideology in mind, anything political.”

When Watts was arrested Lincolnshire Police said officers discovered a quantity of chemicals and a number of weapons.

Nearby residents were evacuated for a number of hours and a bomb disposal team was called out to carry out safety checks before the all clear was given.

Watts, who previously was a member of the Bracebridge Lowfields Community Police Team working in the south of Lincoln, has been suspended by the force pending the outcome of criminal proceedings and an investigation.

She was also a trade union activist serving as the equalities officer for the Lincolnshire Police UNISON.

Watts, who worked for Lincolnshire Police for nine years, had moved to a civilian role by the time of her arrest.

Watts pleaded to five charges relating to other items found in her home and two butterfly knives which were intercepted by the Border Force in September last year.

Zoe will be sentenced on June 29. | Photo: Stephen Daniels

Her guilty pleas were to the following charges:

  • Making an explosive substance, namely an improvised explosive device, between January 1 and October 4, 2020.
  • On October 4, 2020 had in her possession a prohibted weapon adapted for discharge of a noxious liquid, gas or other thing, namely an electric fly swat.
  • On October 4, 2020 had in her possession a prohibited weapon, namely stun gun.
  • On October 4, 2020 had in her possession a prohibited weapon, namely a taser stun device.
  • On September 5 improperly imported goods, a prohibited weapon, namely a butterfly knife.

Zoe uses a baseball bat covered in glass and smashes watermelons with faces of famous people including Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. | Still: YouTube

Nick Fooks, defending Watts, told the court she was anxious to be sentenced straight away.

Mr Fooks said: “She is a woman of previous good characher.

“This defendant has already served somewhere in the region of eight months in custody.”

But Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight rejected the application, stating: “It is a very odd set of offences.”

The judge told Watts: “I am going to adjourn your case for the preparation of a pre-sentence report which will address all options, including the risk you pose to others.”

Watts will be sentenced on June 29 and was remanded back into custody.

Assistant Chief Constable at Lincolnshire Police, Kerrin Wilson, says: “We have been and continue to be shocked by this case.

“Our investigation revealed Watts had a fascination with weapons and while there was no evidence to suggest she had plans to use these, the nature of them was disturbing and quite frankly, completely incompatible with what we stand for at Lincolnshire Police.

“The charges relate to the weapons Watts had which are illegal and we believe the explosive device could have been capable of detonating and causing injury to anyone in close proximity of it.

“I fully recognise that our communities may find it worrying to hear that a member of the police was involved in such activity. Cases like this are extremely rare and we have dealt with this very robustly once concerns were brought to our attention.

“I’d like to thank residents for their patience and understanding when properties were evacuated and our investigation team who have worked diligently to bring this case to justice.”