The Penalties for Possessing Explosives in NSW

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.


It is reported that on 28 August 2019, a young man and woman allegedly lit an explosive device in a southeast Melbourne Park that propelled 150m into a nearby home while two people were inside.

The explosion occurred at around 5pm when the device was ignited and burst through the roof of the property near Hillview Drive, Carrum Downs.

The missile caused considerable damage to the roof, whilst also damaging the property’s interior, leaving the people inside alarmed and luckily unharmed.

Police have since released images of two people they believe are related to the incident.

Both are described as being Caucasian and wearing hooded jumpers at the time.

According to one of the home’s residents, Kelvin Bitomsky, the projectile was 57cm long, weighed seven kilograms and was constructed from metal tubing.


Victoria Police: “Extremely Lucky” Nobody was Killed

Since the incident, police have said it is “extremely lucky” nobody was killed when the improvised explosive device launched from the block of land.

Speaking to ABC News, Detective Senior Constable Heath Lyon said it was about 15 seconds between the sound passing of the explosion at Carrum Downs and the moment the projectile crashed through the Hillview Drive house.

“The occupants stated the son is usually home from work at that time and would be normally showing, so he could have very easily been killed or seriously injured,” Senior Constable Lyon said.

“It is extremely lucky no-one was killed … that time of the day there’s people walking after school, walking their dogs.”


Motives Unclear but Those Responsible to Face Serious Charges

Meanwhile, Senior Constable Lyon declared he was unclear as to what might have motivated those involved to launch the potentially deadly missile, ruminating a range of possibilities.

“Intentions can vary from just skylarking to more of a serious nature of intentionally firing it at someone or a property and once again until we speak to these people, I won’t know what their intentions were,” he said.

Senior Constable Lyon additionally warned that those found to be behind the act would face serious charges, which could include possessing an explosive substance and conduct endangering a life.

He also mentioned the possibility of a second incident given the reports of similar loud bangs that had been heard in the area recently.

The Arson and Explosives Squad has since appealed for the public’s help in identifying the young man and woman.


What is an Explosive According to NSW Law?

In NSW, an explosive device is understood to be an article or substance that, when manufactured, mixed or assembled, can produce an explosive or pyrotechnic effect.

This is made clear in rule 4 in the Explosives Regulation 2013 (NSW).

According to the Explosives and Dangerous Goods (Explosives) Regulations 1963, an article or substance is also considered an explosive if it has explosive properties and is too dangerous to transport.

In NSW, it is illegal to possess, supply or make explosives.

As the aforementioned case highlights, examples of possessing an explosive could include taking a tube of dynamite to the park in your bag, while supplying explosives could include buying explosive materials for someone in exchange for money.

What our Sydney Criminal Lawyers Say About the Law and Penalties for Possessing Explosives in NSW

In NSW, possessing, supplying or making an explosive is an offence and as such, the courts take the matter very seriously.

The maximum penalty is up to 5-years imprisonment for possessing an explosive in public under section 93FA Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Otherwise, the maximum penalty, in public or otherwise, is 3-years imprisonment and/or $5,500 fine where a person possesses an explosive in circumstances giving rise to a reasonable suspicion that he/she didn’t possess it for a lawful purpose (section 93FA(2)).

Further, anyone who knowingly possesses an explosive substance with the intention of either injuring or committing a crime (being a crime carrying at least 5-years prison), or knowingly possesses an explosive substance to enable someone else to do this will face a penalty of up to 14-years imprisonment under section 48(1) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

A public place includes any area that is open to the public. This could be a park, beach, shopping centre etc.

Click here for an outline on the law on the penalties for putting an explosive in or near a building, car or public place in NSW.

What are some defences to this charge? A court will return a verdict of ‘not guilty’ to a charge of possessing an explosive in NSW if there was a reasonable excuse or lawful purpose for possessing it (reflected in section 93FA(4)).

As established criminal lawyers from Sydney and Across the State, our team are available 24/7 to arrange a free consultation.

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