Award-winning veg grower gets surprise visit from police after buying 'bomb' equipment online

Ellen Manning

An award-winning giant vegetable grower was shocked when he was visited by police to check if he was making BOMBS.

John Handrahan-Cook, 47, has spent years growing massive celery, marrows and onions.

But when he bought a 25kg sack of explosive calcium nitrate fertiliser from eBay along with fertiliser, screws, plastic sheeting and plastic tubes to grow giant carrots and parsnips inside, they were flagged as potential terrorist materials and he received an unannounced visit from police.

Two officers searched every room in John’s house but quickly realised the chemicals were for his giant runner beans and the pipes were to grow huge carrots, parsnips and radish inside.

<em>Amusing – John and his friends have always joked the police might visit but he didn’t know it would actually happen (Pictures: SWNS)</em>
Amusing – John and his friends have always joked the police might visit but he didn’t know it would actually happen (Pictures: SWNS)

John, a delivery driver from Meden Vale, Nottinghamshire, said: “It’s a joke among the giant veg growing community that we might get a knock on the door from the boys in blue over the amount of fertiliser we buy.

“We joke that they would think we were making bombs – or growing cannabis. We always joke about getting visits – but this is the first time I’ve heard it happen.”

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He added: “They thought I was making a pipe bomb I think. I mean all the things I had were things I needed for a homemade bomb.

“I totally find it highly amusing and I didn’t mind. I got to talk no end about my giant vegetables at the end of the day.”

<em>Giant – John has been growing giant veg for around five years </em>
Giant – John has been growing giant veg for around five years

John has been growing his own vegetables since he was aged four, but got into growing giant varieties around five years ago and now has three allotment patches, a 20ft poly-tunnel, a grow tent and two greenhouses in his garden where he is also building an onion house.

At the Langwith Show in September, he won first place for his 70lb marrow and 29in runner beans, and 2nd prize for his onions.

He also entered his giant 19lb beetroot and 3lb potatoes into the Malvern Show but lost out to more experienced growers.

A spokesperson for Nottinghamshire Police said they had a duty to act on information they received and had visited a property in Meden Vale, Nottinghamshire to establish whether there was anything to be concerned about.

“The occupier was very co-operative and we’d like to thank him for his understanding during this time as he allowed us to search the property and satisfy ourselves that there are currently no suspicious activities taking place there.

“The public would expect the police to do everything possible to prevent an attack and keep them safe.

“We have specialist teams who are constantly gathering and reviewing intelligence and acting where necessary.

“Remember, this is not a time to let our guard down, we can all have an impact in keeping Nottinghamshire safe, encourage people to continue with their daily business but remain vigilant at all times, and actively promote the national anti-terrorism campaign ‘ACT – Action Counters Terrorism’ with your families, friends and colleagues.”