A MAN who set off an explosion on a busy Saturday morning after threatening to blow up Leamington police station has been given an extended prison sentence as a danger to the public.
Darrell Parker, of Hearthway, Banbury, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to arson being reckless whether life was endangered.
The 48-year-old was given a sentence of four years in jail, of which he will serve two-thirds, before being on licence for the rest of the term and a further five years.
Prosecutor Michelle Heeley said around 8.30am on Saturday December 13, Parker was spoken to by security staff at the justice centre in Newbold Terrace and made a one-fingered gesture as he walked away.
Parker then went to the front office of the police station where he was asked to put out his cigarette and leave. As he did so he swore at the officer, threatening to return and bomb them.
Although the officer did not take the threat seriously, he contacted town centre CCTV staff and asked them to keep an eye on him.
A little later Parker went to a nearby store where he bought some lighters and lighter fluid before asking for a can of lighter gas.
When he was told they did not stock it, he asked for a can of deodorant instead. He then left and returned to near the police station within minutes.
Just as the town was starting to get busy with Christmas shoppers, Parker put a paper bag containing the deodorant can on the ground, poured lighter fluid and lit it. Moments later the can exploded, sending fragments flying about 20 metres.
The description of the man responsible matched Parker, who was arrested shortly afterwards.
When he was interviewed Parker claimed he had bought the deodorant to spray himself and the decision to use it to cause an explosion had been taken on the spur of the moment.
At an earlier hearing the court was told that Parker’s previous convictions included threatening to blow up a police station in 2006, a bomb hoax in 2007 for which he was jailed, and a further threat to blow up a police station in 2011 when a judge at Oxford Crown Court gave him a community order.
Robert Lindsey, defending, suggested the incident had been ‘a cry for help’ by Parker, who had been an alcoholic since he was 14 but had now ‘engaged with treatment’ while on remand in prison where he has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano said: “It is a really serious offence, because if you set a fire or cause an explosion you can’t control it, and if it gets out of control you can very easily kill or seriously hurt someone.
“I accept you didn’t intend to hurt anyone, but that is the risk you take. The fact that you targeted a police station where officers are carrying out their duty clearly makes it worse.”