A self-styled Doomsday ‘prepper’ turned his home into an explosives factory and set off dozens of devices in the garden, a court has been told.
Simon Pilgrim, 41, from Derby, was arrested last December when police raided his accommodation in a multi-occupancy block.
Officers uncovered 13 viable improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in his room and the burnt remains of 40 more in the back garden in King Alfred Street, the Old Bailey heard.
Before a search, Pilgrim was asked if he had anything dangerous. He told officers: ‘There’s an ottoman in my room. Inside it is a shoe box and inside that are small bangers. They just make noise.’
But prosecutor Emma Gargitter suggested Pilgrim had turned his room into a ‘storage space and workshop for manufacturing explosive devices’.
Items seized included cut pipes and end caps, resin kits and moulds for making knife blades and knuckle dusters, a bag containing black clothes, a lock pick kit and elbow and knee pads, IED casing, body armour and a notebook of explosives recipes.
In total, there was around 307g of homemade explosives and the chemical precursors to make about 824g more, the court was told.
Pilgrim allegedly began buying items linked to the manufacture of explosives in bulk from eBay and Amazon last August.
An examination of his phone allegedly uncovered three video clips of the defendant setting off IEDs of ever-increasing size and strength of detonation in his garden last autumn.
Pilgrim showed an interest in ‘survival and self-defence’ through the purchase of a volume of 100 Deadly Skills: A Navy Seal’s Guide To Crushing Your Enemy, it was claimed.
He also considered buying another book called How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It: From Financial Crisis To Flu Epidemic, jurors heard.
Shortly before the police raid, Pilgrim allegedly searched Google and YouTube for how to make such things as a flamethrower, 3D printed gun and sodium bomb.
Ms Gargitter said the possession of the the books 100 Deadly Skills, FM 5-31 Boobytrap and The Anarchist Cookbook were of ‘particular concern’ and the subject of three charges against him.
After his arrest, Pilgrim said he was planning to start a pyrotechnics firm.
He told police: ‘When I do make explosive compounds… I make small amounts. I don’t want to make large amounts because that will get me into trouble.’
In an interview with officers, Pilgrim talked about being a ‘prepper’ – someone preparing for an impending war or disaster.
When asked by officers why a ‘prepper’ needs to have IEDs, he replied: ‘Oh, no. That is something different.’
Pilgrim said the devices were meant to be an improvement on fireworks to make them safer and he never meant to harm anyone.
He went on to say he bought a stab vest for paintballing and had taken an archery course to do more training.
But Ms Gargitter said: ‘At the heart of this case lies his interest in explosives and explosive devices.
‘Evidence will be adduced to show that this interest was unregulated, dangerous and without a lawful purpose.
‘Whilst the Crown do not set out to prove Mr Pilgrim was intending to use these documents and explosives to cause injury to persons or damage to property, his activities did incur a significant risk that such harm might be caused, even if only inadvertently.’
She said while Pilgrim may have been interested in fireworks, the evidence showed in late 2021 he became ‘fascinated by weapons, self-defence and survival’.
‘Boredom, curiosity and a desire to simply experiment’ led Pilgrim to take even greater risks, she suggested.
Pilgrim denies three charges of possession of an explosive substance in relation to black powder, ‘rocket candy’ and pyrotechnic fuses.
He also denies three counts of possession of a document for terrorist purposes.
The trial continues.
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