BREAKING: Explosive materials found at Preston home

Materials found at Skully's home
Materials found at Skully's home
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A woman who was caught with bomb making materials at her mother's suburban home told counsellors she had "found out about it" on an internet site.

Harriet Skully, 28, who has a history of mental health issues, told her counsellor: "Mum's not happy with me, she's found out I'm making a bomb."

Materials found at Skully's home

Materials found at Skully's home


The confession led to a search at her mother's home on Woodlands Way Barton, near Preston, in August 2015.


After just 20 minutes, the jury at Preston Crown Court unanimously found she had been in possession of explosive materials, though a judge stressed there was no indication the vulnerable woman was linked to terrorism.


She was considered too ill to stand a criminal trial and a short trial took place to consider whether she did the act.


Judge Stuart Baker made a hospital order under section 37 of the Mental Health Act but said he felt a section 41 restriction - imposed in cases where someone is considered a risk to the public - was not necessary.

He said it was "not intended to be a punitive act but reflects the need to provide her with appropriate care."


A probe found Skully, latterly of Hornby Road, Blackpool, had used computer search terms such as "bomb", "detonator" "construction of improvised explosive devices" "ricin" and "death from air rifle".


Prosecuting, Peter Barr said several items linked to making incendiary devices or explosives were shown to police by the defendant when they attended the scene last summer.


He said: "Sgt Terry asked Skully if there were any items which could cause harm in the room.


"Skully produced a black case and placed it on the worktop. Inside the case were sulphur powder and a metal tube.


"Skully then produced a jam jar containing a white substance in a paper towel.


"Her mother began to pull at the paper towel from the jar. Skully asked her to stop saying: "It's not safe."


Police evacuated the room after seeing gunpowder and she was arrested.


A laptop was seized along with various powders, a detonator, charcoal, a battery and a metal tube.


Skully gave no comment in a police interview.


However she had told her counsellor the reason she had obtained the materials was to highlight a financial policy by American government economist Ben Bernanke.


The Quantitative easing (QE) policy involves creating new electronic money in order to buy government bonds or other financial assets to stimulate the economy.


Gemma Simeonidis, a forensic scientist gave evidence in the case.


She said: It is my opinion that the items submitted, which included a low explosive pyrotechnic composition, am improvised ignitor, chemicals that could be used in the manufacture of improvised explosive materials and a number of other items which could be used in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices.


"The submitted devices included those which could be used to construct a pipe bomb IED."


She added: "Pipe bombs have the potential to cause injuries to persons and damage to properties in close proximity at the time of initiation, particularly if fragments are propelled away from the device.


"The manufacture and use of explosives is a hazardous activity.


"It is difficult to accurately predict the effects of an initiation of a quantity of explosives as the are many factors that will affect the result."

Brett Gerrity, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West said: “Harriett Skully possessed the ingredients which could have been used to make a viable bomb and therefore posed a real and serious danger to members of the public.

“The judge deemed Miss Skully mentally unfit to enter a plea to the charge against her. After carefully considering the evidence in the case, the jury found that she did possess explosive substances.