Man Jailed Over Explosive Items

2 April 2015, 11:55 | Updated: 2 April 2015, 11:58

A former doctor has been sentenced to three years and four months in prison for storing dozens of explosive ingredients and bomb-making instructions.

Faris al-Khori, originally from Syria, was arrested in Edinburgh last year when chemicals, poisonous materials, bolts and handwritten notes were discovered in a flat.

It was found that he had no links to terrorism and prosecutors accepted he had made no attempt to make an explosive device, but the 62-year-old pleaded guilty to being in possession of various items which could be combined to make explosive substances.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, al-Khori was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Judge Lady Wolffe said: "The number and nature of the explosive substances and the places you chose to store them lead me to conclude there is no alternative to a custodial sentence.

"The sentence is one of five years but in light of your early plea I reduce it to 40 months.

"It will be backdated and I shall also impose a supervised release order for a period of 12 months.''

The materials, which included acetone, hydrogen peroxide, mercury and lead picrate, were discovered in April last year after a fire in a communal area of a flat at Fidra Court in the Muirhouse area of Edinburgh.

Fire crews searching the building forced entry to a flat registered to al-Khori and found jars containing various powders. Castor beans, which can be used to make ricin, were also found.

The building was evacuated while the substances - some which were years old - were tested.

Handwritten notes and instructions which "appeared to be instructions on how to prepare explosives and bombs'' were also discovered.

Further material was later unearthed at a property in Persevere Court, Leith, and explosives experts were called in again.

Al-Khori said the materials were used for cleaning and as fertiliser but in February he pleaded guilty to a breach of the 1883 Explosive Substances Act.

Passing sentence Lady Wolffe said it was accepted there was no terrorist offence committed.

She added: "While you have pled guilty, the schedule lists 41 substances found in your control.

"You assembled large quantities without lawful purpose and some were stored in a high rise flat in a densely populated area.

"They were only found by chance by the fire service.''

Al-Khori, who has been the full-time carer for his wife, was born in Damascus and trained as a doctor in Iraq before moving to Austria.

He has been a British citizen since 1998 but has never practised medicine in the UK.

Speaking before sentence was passed, defence QC Brian McConnachie said: "What seems to be clear from the narrative and material is that it has been directly ordered from legitimate companies, mainly through Amazon.

"The material has always been delivered to domestic addresses and paid for by genuine credit cards registered to Mr al-Khori.

"It has always been done in the open and over a period of time. Many of the items have never been opened.

"It is difficult to understand the hoarding of this material but it does appear that he is someone who has some kind of academic interest in the materials.

"It seems he has accumulated materials with some kind of peculiar interest in the subject without ever intending to do anything or make anything.''