West Lothian man turns flat into explosives factory

Stephen Cannon, 39, made an arsenal of incendiary devices from fireworks and potassium carbonate at his home in Armadale, West Lothian. Picture: Vic Roddick
Stephen Cannon, 39, made an arsenal of incendiary devices from fireworks and potassium carbonate at his home in Armadale, West Lothian. Picture: Vic Roddick
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A bombmaker turned his council flat into an explosives factory after he launched a bitter feud against a fish company.

Stephen Cannon, 39, made an arsenal of incendiary devices from fireworks and potassium carbonate at his home in Barbauchlaw Avenue, Armadale, West Lothian.

He blew them up in woods to test their effectiveness and taught others how to make them.

Cannon used the home-made ordnance to target employees of Livingston firm Ruskim Seafoods.

Police say his campaign came to a head when five homemade incendiary devices were placed around a car parked in Dechmont, West Lothian, leading to panic and the village’s Main Street being evacuated.

Officers acting on information swooped on Cannon’s flat in a council housing estate in Armadale on Tuesday June 14, where they discovered “potentially explosive and flammable materials”.

The Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit was called to the property in Barbaughlaw Avenue “as a precaution”, police said at the time.

Cannon is now facing jail after pleading guilty in court to the sinister campaign – described by police as “reckless and dangerous”.

A police source said: “The bombs would have caused considerable damage if they had exploded.

“Cannon was involved in a fight with a director at the company and waged a campaign of terror against some of the staff there.”

Detective Inspector Steven Bertram, of Livingston CID, added: “Stephen Cannon’s actions were reckless and dangerous and could easily have caused burns or other injuries.

“As it is, he is responsible for damage to property and causing fear and alarm to the residents in Dechmont who he targeted.

“His conviction should serve as a warning that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated and Police Scotland will apply all the resources at our disposal to bring those responsible before the courts.”

Detectives believe Cannon got involved in a dispute with a director of Ruskim.

Police swooped after five plastic bottles filled with explosive material were discovered under the car in Dechmont’s Main Street on June 6 last year.

It’s understood the car belonged to an employee of Ruskim.

Police and emergency services evacuated properties in Main Street and closed the road for several hours until the devices had been made safe. A raid on Cannon’s flat uncovered a number of incendiary devices made using fireworks, potassium carbonate and aluminium foil.

Cannon admitted making the devices on numerous occasions and testing the chemical “bombs” in nearby woodlands.

Livingston Sheriff Court heard Cannon also admitted filming the explosions and instructing others in how to make, prepare and use the improvised devices.

He admitted committing the offences between April 27 and June 5 last year at his home and elsewhere in Scotland.

Cannon and his flatmate Stuart Clark, 22, had not guilty pleas accepted to culpably and recklessly putting five “hydrogen bombs” under a car in Dechmont, on June 6 last year.

The charge alleged that they knew the bottles filled with potassium carbonate and aluminium foil would explode, damaging the Mazda 6TS and placing members off the public living nearby in danger.

Another flatmate, 19-year-old John Clark, had a not guilty plea accepted to placing Michael York, a sales director at Ruskim Seafoods, in a state of fear and alarm for his safety.

He was charged with making threatening and menacing comments to Michael in an incident on March 31, 2016.

Sheriff Douglas Kinloch deferred sentence on Cannon for reports.

No one at Ruskim Seafoods was available for comment.