Guilty of setting lethal booby trap

First published in News by

A FORMER MoD scientist faces jail after being convicted of setting a lethal booby trap.

Nigel Cockburn, was convicted of committing an assault occasioning actual bodily harm, setting a man trap and possessing ammunition without a certificate, all of which he denied.

The 53-year-old of Cloonmore Avenue, Orpington, who worked for the MoD for 36 years, was cleared of wounding with intent.

Prosecutor Jonathan Higgs said a fire broke out in Cockburn's garage in Wood Street, Swanley Village, on July 10 last year.

Emergency services personnel then found a large quantity of ammunition, some of it live.

The following day, Army explosives expert Captain Iain Swan opened the door to a shed and set off the trap - a device packed with nails - which injured his arm.

Mr Higgs told Maidstone Crown Court: "It was designed to swing down and strike anybody going through the door who is not expecting it.

"He knows it is there. If anybody pokes his head through the door, that is what he is going to get."

Mr Higgs said Captain Swan also discovered a microwave oven with its door removed.

It had been wired at the back to be permanently on and he could hear a clicking noise which turned out to be power to rods and other items in the shed.

Mr Higgs said Cockburn had wired up a door to the mains in order to shock intruders in 2004.

Cockburn claimed he had been burgled 20 times in 14 years and the police had not done anything about it.

Mr Higgs said Cockburn had told police he would kill burglars if he had the chance.

Cockburn, who worked at Fort Halstead MoD research site in Kent, said he made the device with nails in it to practice using a welder he needed to build a mower.

He said: "If I wanted to make it so it was a horrible thing to kill people and hurt people, I could have dreamt up something more severe.

"I have spent my entire life working in counter-terrorism. I design things to stop terrorist bombs."

Cockburn was convicted on June 29 and is due to be sentenced on July 27.

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