Man sentenced over campervan packed with explosives and weapons found after threatening to use crossbow in row
A man is beginning a prison sentence after he was stopped by police with a campervan packed with an arsenal of weapons.
After police pulled over Simon Flint on a busy North East route, they were led to an industrial unit which contained chemicals and other items of concern.
Today at Teesside Crown Court, the 42-year-old from County Durham has been sentenced to two-and-a-half-years in jail for affray, possession of offensive weapons, bladed articles and explosives.
Prosecutors say he had a fascination of blowing objects up for his own entertainment, with videos found of him exploding a cucumber and an apple.
His conviction follows an investigation led by the by Counter Terrorism Policing North East in conjunction with Durham Constabulary.
Flint was arrested at the end of June, following a call to police from a concerned member of the public.
He had been seen arguing with a group of young people before threatening a man with a crossbow and was arrested a short time later by police, who stopped Flint whilst driving his motorhome on the A689 Coundon Bypass.
A comprehensive search of the vehicle by specialist officers found more than 100 knives, three swords, two crossbows, an axe, bolts and ammunition scattered throughout the living areas of the vehicle.
Search teams also discovered stab-proof vests, handcuffs and a number of explosives and electrical components in the van, which had been his home at the time.
The investigation led officers to search lock-up premises in Middlesborough where chemicals and other items of concern were located.
Flint, previously of Meadowfield Drive, Eaglescliffe, claimed he had been experimenting with the chemicals out of misguided curiosity.
Describing himself as a weapons enthusiast, Flint pleaded guilty to the possession of bladed articles, the possession of offensive weapons and the possession of prohibited weapons.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of the unlawful possession of explosives and an offence of affray.
Gary Fothergill, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Simon Flint has an interest in the acquisition of weapons and the manufacture of explosive devices.
“While understandably alarming to the public, the evidence in this case does not suggest any intent on his part to use explosives to harm people or property.
“Instead, Flint appears to have been motivated by a compulsion to master the technical process of constructing improvised explosive devices and to use these to blow up inanimate objects for his own entertainment.
“This can be seen in videos found on his personal electronic devices showing him blowing up pieces of fruit.
“The Crown Prosecution Service has worked closely with the North East Counter Terrorism Unit to build a robust case against Simon Flint.
“He now fully accepts the potential dangerousness of his actions, even though it was never his intent to cause harm.
“Under no circumstances should the manufacture of explosive devices ever be considered a recreational activity.
“No matter how careful Mr Flint may have been, the potential for collateral damage in pursuit of his eccentric interests still remains.
“I sincerely hope that his sentence for the possession of these items serves as a stark warning to others.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden is head of the North East counter terrorism team.
He said: “Flint had an alarming number of weapons in his possession when he was arrested.
While there was no evidence of intent to cause harm, in pleading guilty, he has recognised the serious nature of the offences and the consequences of his actions and behaviour.
“Flint also possessed and stored chemicals he knew were potentially dangerous.
“These substances can be unstable and attempts to manufacture them or adapt them can lead to the damage of property, serious injury or even death.
“Maintaining public safety is our number one priority and we will always seek to prosecute those who disregard and feel they are above the law.
“The public are our number one ally in tackling all forms of criminality.
“Reports to police are vital in protecting our communities and keeping everyone safe.”