A 45-year-old woman and a 43-year-old man have been arrested after a homemade pipe bomb was discovered on the doorstep of a home in Melbourne’s north-west around 10am on Sunday 11 July 2021.
The pair was being investigated after the homegrown explosive was left on the front porch of a family residence on the quiet suburban Derby St in Pascoe Vale, where police and the Bomb Response Unit descended after reports came in that members of the household had found the bomb.
The area was cordoned off, leaving bomb squad officers to discharge the device, while neighbouring properties were evacuated by police who combed through the area to search for any other explosives.
Fortunately, no one was injured in the process of defusing the bomb, while no further devices were discovered by police.
Nevertheless, on Tuesday 13 July, police raided a property nearby on Heath Street, also in Pascoe Vale, where they unearthed an assortment of explosive supplies inside.
It is here that they arrested the 45-year-old woman and 43-year-old man.
The duo was charged to appear before Melbourne Magistrates’ Court with a series of offences including making an explosive substance – endangering life, possessing explosive substance – endangering life, making explosive substance without excuse, possessing explosive substance without excuse and reckless conduct endangering life.
Resident of Derby St Home Speaks of Shock and Disbelief Upon Discovering Bomb at her Door
Kathryn Ellard, a resident at the property, spoke to media outlets following the incident, expressing the shockwave that ran through her and the disbelief of finding the pipe bomb on the doormat as she opened the front door.
“I just opened the front door and saw that unusual pipe with a fuse that had burnt out on the doormat,” Ms Ellard said.
“I only see things like that on television.
“I just thought, maybe that’s a pipe bomb, but I haven’t had experience with those sorts of things.”
Ms Ellard’s father, Gary Ellard, said the pipe bomb was big enough to “cause some damage”.
“They did light it, but it didn’t go off. Thank goodness,” Gary Ellard said.
Ms Ellard and her family have lived at the suburban property for 50 years.
It is their belief the pipe bomb was placed there by mistake.
Nevertheless, Victoria Police have since expressed they are treating the placement of the pipe bomb as a “targeted incident” and
“Police are treating it as a targeted incident and are not looking for anyone else in relation to the matter,” a Victoria Police spokesperson said.
Why Pipe Bombs have become an Increasingly Favoured Instruments for Criminals Across the World
Put simply, a pipe bomb is an improvised explosive device that is formed by placing materials that have the capacity to detonate into a section of pipe that is sealed tightly.
Once inside, the pressure in the pipe is contained and causes it to amplify the power of the destructive ingredients, much more than it would in open air.
As such, when it erupts, it does so with a devastating destruction.
According to Australian research on improvised explosive devices, such devices, including pipe bombs, are becoming a favoured weapon by criminals globally because of their proven ability to inflict mass casualties, destroy property, cause fear and disruption, and attract media attention.
Moreover, they are generally within the financial and technical capabilities of criminals – improvised explosive devices can be assembled with relative ease and even used remotely, while their parts can often easily be found in hardware stores.
Pipe bombs, in particular, also do not require a high-level destructive material to have a fatal impact.
Due to the nature of the device, even ingredients that exhibit low levels of potential damage can cause immense destruction.
As most would assume, it is against the law to possess, supply or make an explosive.
In NSW, the law on this is outlined in section 93FA of the Crimes Act 1900, which outlines particular penalties depending on the type of such an offence.
Specifically, 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, can face a maximum penalty of three years in jail, or a fine of $5,500, or both.
Moreover, a person who is caught possessing an explosive in a public place can face a maximum penalty of five years in jail.
It should also be noted that where the person satisfies to the court that they had a reasonable excuse for possessing, making or supplying an explosive device or did so for a lawful purpose, they are not guilty of an offence.
As per clause 4 of the Explosives Regulation 2013 (NSW), an explosive means an article or substance, which when manufactured, mixed or assembled, can cause an explosive or pyrotechnic effect.
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