Feeds

Manchester 'DIY devil bomber' kept explosive in family fridge

No evidence of intent to harm, says police source

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A Manchester court case this week revealed chilling evidence of the devastation that can be caused by home-made bombs. Or, possibly, the case merely provided further evidence of the press' and security services' tenuous grasp of the science of bomb-making.

According to today's Times, a former student "kept a bottle of his explosive in the kitchen fridge at his family’s £450,000 home in Worsley, Greater Manchester." Police, the Times tells us, "said that the mix was so volatile that an accidental shove of the fridge could have caused an explosion that would have destroyed every home in the cul-de-sac." Which sounds like a very big fridge containing a very big bottle full of deeply scary stuff.

The Times reports that the student mixed ingredients "including potassium nitrate and magnesium." These are indeed substances which can be combined to produce a bang, but not ones which of their own volition form a readily-bottled liquid when combined. The Register has some passing familiarity with potassium nitrate (saltpetre), which is used in the production of salt beef, and which was winning us penetrating stares down at the chemist's well before the Global War on Terror. But yes, it's also a component of gunpowder, and can be used to make bombs; more commonly, however, terrorists use ammonium nitrate, which is used as a fertiliser and more readily available. But even assuming very large fridge and very large container of either, slamming the fridge door is unlikely to set it off unless the door's booby-trapped with a couple of flints, and we wouldn't expect it to go much beyond making a serious mess of the kitchen anyway.

The Manchester Evening News, however, has some more plausible detail. Police found potassium nitrate, magnesium "and a highly-explosive substance called triacteone triperoxide". This is TATP, produced with acetone and peroxide with the aid of a great deal of care and a certain amount of refrigeration, as we explained here and as comprehensively dismantled by Dick Destiny here and here. And yes, you could reasonably worry about what that stuff might do left lying around the fridge, but the bang is still not going to be neighbourhood-threatening.

The MEN analysis is more fevered, quoting a police source: "He kept a bottle of a completed mix in the family fridge. The entire house and the entire street could have been blown up. It is so volatile it did not need gunpowder to ignite it. Just a heavy shove of the fridge could have triggered an explosion."

Careful readers will note from our sources that although we do have explosives here, a garage door blown off, bangs in the wood and one unlucky sheep, this was not a terrorism trial. At a hearing in March, Edward Mattison admitted three charges of possessing an explosive substance and one of causing an explosion, and has now admitted downloading five sexually explicit images of "pre-teens". He has been granted conditional bail pending sentencing in October. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.