A man has been cleared of planting an explosive device in a busy Preston shopping centre just before Christmas.
The discovery of the home made explosive - made from a firelighter, an aerosol can, a Lego box and a toilet roll tube - led to a mass evacuation and closed the Fishergate Centre on December 17, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
But the man arrested over the incident - David Rutherford, 25, who lived with his mother on Barry Avenue, Ingol, Preston - was unanimously found not guilty of being responsible by jurors at Preston Crown Court.
They found he was not responsible for charges of making an improvised incendiary device with intent to endanger life or cause damage to property, or doing an act with intent to cause an explosion likely to endanger life or cause injury or damage to property
His mother Jean, who was watching from the public gallery burst into tears as the verdict was given.
Det Insp Jane Webb, of Preston CID, said: “I respect the decision reached by the jury and I would like to thank them for their careful consideration of this case. I’d also like to thank the
Crown Prosecution Service and Counsel for all their efforts.
“This was a complex investigation but one that is now closed. We are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident.
“I would also like to stress that at no point during the course of our enquiries has there been any suggestion that this was a terrorist act or was motivated by terrorism.”
Police were called around 9.45am on December 17 following reports a suspicious device had been found in the men’s toilets.
The device, described as an inhaler wrapped in tape with a box of matches and a firelighter, had earlier ignited with some toilet roll on a toilet seat but caused no significant
A staff member extinguished the fire and reported the incident to management at the Fishergate Centre.
After consultation with police, a decision was taken to evacuate the building as a precaution, forcing the closure of dozens of shops.
Police closed roads around the building as bomb disposal experts made the device safe.