Weapons-obsessed man found guilty over explosion at his Bedfordshire home

<span>The explosion smashed windows in Matthew Haydon’s home.</span><span>Photograph: Bedfordshire Police/PA</span>
The explosion smashed windows in Matthew Haydon’s home.Photograph: Bedfordshire Police/PA

A man whose obsession with weaponry once led him to ask to throw a grenade on the children’s television programme Jim’ll Fix It has been found guilty of causing an explosion in his home.

Matthew Haydon, 48, sustained wounds to his chest and hands in a blast at his family home in the Bedfordshire village of Sharnbrook on 10 April last year. Afterwards, he told police of his longstanding interest in explosives, citing his request to the former BBC show.

He said he had been “researching” explosives after feeling affected by what had happened at an Ariana Grande concert, in an apparent reference to the Manchester Arena suicide bombing.

His mother found him burned, bleeding and shouting “Help me, help me” after the incident, a jury at the Old Bailey heard.

Haydon’s mother put him in the shower to relieve the pain, and called 999, the court was told. Neighbours also heard a loud thudding boom, felt their house shake and saw that the defendant’s window had smashed.

After being treated in hospital, Haydon was interviewed by police and admitted causing the explosion, the court heard. He said: “I don’t believe it was malicious. It was an accident. It wasn’t an intended detonation.”

He said he had always been “obsessed with all kinds of weaponry, explosives in particular”. He said: “I think I wrote off to Jim’ll Fix It to ask if I could throw a hand grenade.”

He told officers he was “researching about explosives” because of “what happened at the Ariana Grande concert”. He said the bombing had affected him “quite badly”. Haydon also told police he had issues related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Officers searched his home laboratory and seized chemicals, equipment, electronic devices and handwritten notes, jurors heard. On his laptop were instructions for explosives, and there was evidence he had bought chemicals online, the court was told.

Jurors were shown footage from a found camera of the defendant carrying out various experiments with explosives. In one video, Haydon was heard commenting on a passing dog walker before detonating a device strapped to a tree.

Samples of chemicals seized from the house were found to include sensitive high explosives triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD).

Damage to Haydon’s T‐shirt and an orange glove he had been wearing showed he had been in “close proximity” to the explosion, the court heard.

Chemical analysis of samples taken from the clothing indicated HMTD was the explosive charge.

The defendant accepted he had mixed chemicals that caused an explosion, but disputed that the level of explosive used was sufficient to endanger life or property.

Giving evidence, he told jurors he had been “complacent” and should have worn protective clothing. “If you don’t give that substance the respect it is due it will turn around and bite you. And that’s what happened – I got complacent.”

On Friday, he was found guilty by a majority of jurors of causing an explosion likely to endanger life or property. He was remanded in custody to be sentenced at a later date.