Law on Making Possessing a Pipe Bomb in NSW

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

Spending the better part of your spare time at Bunnings has become a favourite pastime for many Aussies.

Fair dinkum, the chain of huge, unassuming warehouses that hold a bounty of every conceivable hardware item known to mankind is impressive to say the least.

And the fact that you can still leave with a couple of snags on bread even if you don’t intend to buy anything makes it even better.

But for one Gold Coast man, a trip down to the local Bunnings left him with neither hardware goods nor a sausage sandwich.

Instead, the unsuspecting dog walker stumbled across a home-made pipe bomb in the car park which exploded in his hands.

 

Man Mistakes Black Toolbox for Pipe Bomb

On 14 November 2019, at around 10am, the 56-year-old man discovered what looked to be a black toolbox, lying on the ground in the car park of Bunnings on Olsen Avenue in Queensland.

Believing it to be simply a chest of gadgets, the man picked it up and carried on his journey, during which he started to unlock it.

However, about 500 metres away, at which point he had reached Edmund Rice Drive at Southport, the box exploded, leaving him with injuries to his hands, stomach and pelvis.

Paramedics were called to the scene and able to treat the man for the burns to his hands.

The explosion left a nearby school and aged care centre locked down as police were called to respond to the incident.

 

Device Secured by Queensland Police in Less Than 20 Minutes

Queensland Police were able to shelter the pipe bomb in less than 20 minutes.

Speaking of the explosion, Inspector Barry Smith said the pipe bomb, in fact, deactivated itself after the first shot.

“When it discharged it actually deactivated itself, there was only a single shot so it was safe once it went off the first time,” Inspector Smith said.

While police remain unsure as to whether the contraption was intentionally planted, they affirmed it appeared sinister.

They believe the man’s contact with the device may be the reason why it detonated.

Addressing the strength of the bomb, Officer Smith said the man was lucky to escape without serious injury.

“It could have been a lot worse, the gentleman is very lucky,” he said.

The man remains in a stable condition.

CCTV is currently being reviewed from the surrounding areas to put together how the device came to be in the car park.

Bunnings has been contacted for comment.

 

Popular Choice for Criminals: The Ease of Making Pipe Bombs

In its simplest form, a pipe bomb is an improvised explosive device that is constructed by placing explosive material in a section of pipe that is compactly sealed.

The pipe bomb uses the pressure of the pipe to intensify the power of the destructive material inside it.

The pipe keeps the flare contained until it reaches a significantly higher intensity than it would in open air, meaning it has the capacity to produce an overwhelming eruption.

According to research from the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps, worryingly, pipe bombs are straightforward and easy to make, with details of their construction readily found on the internet.

Moreover, components can be easily obtained in most hardware stores.

Pipe bombs also do not require a high-level explosive to have a deadly impact. Even material that has a low level of destruction can cause vast damage.

As such, pipe bombs have become one of the main tools of criminals worldwide.

Law on Making or Possessing a Pipe Bomb in NSW

In NSW, it is an offence to make an explosive, as it is to possess or supply one.

This offence is taken very seriously by the courts.

Section 93FA of the Crimes Act 1900 prescribes that a person who possesses, supplies or makes an explosive, under circumstances that give rise to a reasonable suspicion that the person did not possess, supply or make the explosive for a lawful purpose, is guilty of an offence.

There is a max penalty of 5-years imprisonment for possessing an explosive in public, and a max penalty of 3-years imprisonment and/or $5,500 fine for possessing, supplying or making an explosive  in circumstances giving rise to a reasonable suspicion that he/she didn’t do it for a lawful purpose.

What is an ‘explosive’? Clause 4 Explosives Regulation 2013 (NSW) outlines that an explosive is understood as an article or substance, when manufactured, mixed or assembled, can cause an explosive or pyrotechnic effect.

A ‘public place’ is an area that is open to the public. This can include parks, beaches, government buildings which are open to the public, and shopping malls.

What are some defences to making a pipe bombe in NSW? It is a defence to this charge if this was done for either a reasonable excuse or lawful reason, including festival celebration(s), cultural festivities, sporting, demolition or art purposes.

Click here for an outline on the law for possessing, making or manufacturing an explosive substance to cause harm or to place it near or in a building, vehicle or public place in NSW.

Questions on this? Contact our criminal lawyers based in Sydney and across NSW specialising in criminal law.

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