A FORMER mayor who had an "active interest in pyrotechnics" got a "thrill" from setting off dangerous explosions in his own neighbourhood, a court heard.
John Larsen, 46, of Lenten Pool, Denbigh, made his own Improvised Explosive Device (IED) which he used the blow up a car near his home and was the man behind a string of explosions which had been causing fear in the community, Caernarfon Crown Court was told.
Wyn Lloyd Jones, prosecuting, told a jury of six men and six women that after his arrest on April 19, this year, police found files on his home computer containing research notes about how to make explosives and that he was actively "experimenting".
One file was named "gun powder mix" while another was named "experimentation" - that file contained notes about charges, fuses, flash powder, "rockets and shells," and notes about various chemicals.
The court was told that just days after the files were created, explosions were reported in the Lenten Pool area.
Mr Lloyd Jones said it was "fortunate indeed" that nobody had been injured by the biggest explosion caused by the IED on March 24 this year which sent ball bearings and metal shrapnel flying up to 90ft away from the blast zone, smashing windows of nearby property and damaging cars.
The prosecutor said there was a "strong and compelling" case against the defendant, who was working as a Liberal Democrat town councillor up until his arrest, had been the Mayor of Denbigh in 1999 and was a member of the local Neighbourhood Watch.
Mr Lloyd Jones told the jury: "The evidence points you, the prosecution say, to the inevitable conclusion that he (Larsen) was the person responsible."
He said the prosecution did not have to prove a motive, but added: "It's highly likely, the prosecution say, that the defendant John Larsen was getting a thrill from what he was doing and the attention that these events were generating.
"Items recovered by the police from his home and his computer reveal a most active interest in pyrotechnics and explosives," the prosecutor added.
The court was told that members of the Denbigh community had been reporting "loud bangs and explosions" and plumes of black smoke late at night for a number of weeks and a number of cars had been damaged.
The series of smaller explosions apparently started in February and led up to the "main explosion" on March 24.
Mr Lloyd Jones said the IED used was "something akin to a bomb" and that it was placed under a Land Rover Discovery.
The prosecutor said a neighbour of the defendant's witnessed him going out at around 12.45am and "bending down" by the vehicle "as if to look under it".
The court heard that neighbours reported windows shaking and a bang sounding like "the boom of a cannon".
"It will come as no surprise to you that these events brought fear to the local community," the barrister told the jury.
He said that numerous residents had been reporting explosions and loud bangs to the police.
"The prosecution say that the defendant John Larsen was the person responsible for these loud bangs and explosions."
The court heard that Larsen had also been reporting his "concerns" about explosions to the police.
But the prosecutor said this was an attempt by the defendant to "put police off the scent" and that what he had down amounted to a breach of the community's trust in him.
Larsen, wearing a grey suit, white shirt and tie, is charged with three counts of arson, one count of causing an explosion likely to endanger life or cause damage to property, one of count of causing an explosion with intent to endanger life or damage property and one count of possessing explosives.
He denies the charges.
Mr Lloyd Jones said when police went to arrest Larsen that he tried to "get rid" of a business card belonging to a pyrotechnic company.
He was cautioned and taken to a police station and while in the police car told officers that he did have "flash paper" and other explosive paraphernalia which he had bought legitimately over the internet, jurors heard.
He said: "I have got nothing to hide....I just hope I have not broken any laws."
The court was told that Larsen later told police that as a councillor he had been required to handle fireworks due to his involvement in organised firework displays.
But inquiries made to the town clerk found that no committee members were involved in displays or the handling of fireworks.
More searches of the defendant's home found a book about "the chemistry of pyrotechnics", a bag of 50 ball bearings, various powders and chemicals, a pestle and mortar, flares, modified fireworks and rockets and four other similar IEDs.
In police interviews Larsen denied having anything to do with the explosions.
He admitted buying items over the internet but said that was for his own firework displays.
The trial is expected to continue for two weeks.