Essex man with air rifle and homemade explosive device escapes prison sentence

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: SIMON PARKER - Credit: Archant

A suicidal Colchester man who was found in possession of a homemade explosive device and an air rifle has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send him straight to prison.

Sentencing 32-year-old Terrence Gaythorpe to a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, Judge Martyn Levett said he was taking an “exceptional” course by not sending him straight to prison.

Gaythorpe’s girlfriend contacted the police on October 8 because she was worried he was going to kill himself after he went out with a starting pistol and an air rifle, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Officers went to his address and while they were there Gaythorpe returned home, said Michael Crimp, prosecuting.

When police searched his rucksack they found a starting pistol, an air rifle, pellets for the air rifle, cannabis and a film canister containing small ball bearings, gunpowder and a fuse.


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An expert who examined the device believed that if it was activated it could have caused injury or damage in the immediate vicinity of the explosion, said Mr Crimp.

When Gaythorpe was interviewed by police he said he used to make fireworks and set them off at the bottom of his garden and had kept some of them in a cabinet for 10 years.

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He said he had taken the starting pistol with him to deter anyone who tried to stop him killing himself.

Mr Crimp said Gaythorpe’s partner had visited him while he was in custody and they were trying to rebuild their relationship.

Gaythorpe, 32, of Barkstead Road, Colchester, admitted possessing a starting pistol, gunpowder and an air rifle in Barkstead Road, Colchester, on October 8 last year.

Gaythorpe, who has no previous convictions, also admitted possessing cannabis.

In addition to the suspended sentence, he was given a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Sentencing Gaythorpe, Judge Martyn Levett said the defendant had left home with the intention of killing himself and not with the intention of committing an ulterior crime.

He said the explosive device was unlikely to have killed anyone but it could have caused serious injury.

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