Published: 12:25, 21 July 2017
A Folkestone man has been jailed for possessing explosive material that could have been used to make a bomb.
Flammable liquids, powders and other chemicals were found at properties owned by 58-year-old Jesmond Street resident Stephen Else, along with equipment including several lengths of improvised fuse and two firearms.
Police acted after Else ordered a package of expanding ammunition from the internet, which was shipped from America and intercepted by the FBI.
Officers also discovered that Else was running a forgery business from his home in which he supplied false university certificates and other documents to help customers seeking employment as doctors, teachers and more.
Else pleaded guilty to possession of a handgun and possession of a firearm without a certificate but denied three counts of possessing explosives with intent to endanger life.
He was convicted following a trial at Canterbury Crown Court and sentenced today to 12 years and four months.
His sentence includes earlier guilty pleas to two fraud offences, which could not be reported until the conclusion of the second case.
Kent Police officers executed a warrant at Else’s home on Thursday 10 March 2016 after being notified that a parcel addressed to him had been intercepted by the FBI.
The ammunition was described as being `forensically clean’ meaning it could not be traced back to the weapon that fired it, and was also designed to expand on impact.
Officers attended Else’s home in Jesmond Street and discovered that his living room had been turned into a makeshift office with a row of desks housing computers, printers and paperwork.
He was arrested after they also discovered a black powder revolver at the property, with further explosive material discovered later.
Searches of Else’s car and a caravan he owned in Capel-le-Ferne were also carried out, where evidence of fraudulent documentation was discovered. A disc was also found that contained information on how to make different types of bombs.
The chemicals and equipment that had been seized were sent to a Government expert at the Forensic Explosives Laboratory, who confirmed they could have been used to manufacture an improvised explosive device (IED).
Else later claimed he was planning to make his own fireworks, and that the forged documents were actually novelty products for his customers to do with as they wished.
Judge Heather Norton told him: “You are a person who is entirely lacking a moral compass..You claim you had the explosives because you were a hobbyist with an interest in firearms.
“You are a sophisticated criminal, who is on the fringes of or involved in professional criminal activity.”
Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector James Derham said: "Stephen Else had a significant quantity of explosive materials in his possession and his explanation for what he planned to do with it is suspicious at best.
"While there is no evidence to suggest he planned to carry out any terror offences, it is clear he had an unhealthy interest in explosives, ammunition and weaponry.
"It is therefore important these items were taken from his possession in order to ensure the safety of the people of Kent.
"Mr Else was also charged with fraud offences for an online business in which he supplied false documents to paying customers.
"He believed that by referring to these documents as novelty items he was operating within the law, when he quite clearly was not.
"He turned a blind eye to why his customers might have wanted him to forge documents on their behalf but that does not mean he is free from blame.
"His actions were unacceptable and he will now serve time behind bars as a result."
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