Thornton man Stephen Pepper jailed after planning to throw deadly petrol bombs at police

A man who made three deadly home made petrol bombs to "hold police at bay" has been jailed for nine years, with a three year extended licence.

Monday, 20th May 2019, 1:55 pm
Molotov cocktails similar to these were found in Pepper's home

The "Molotov cocktail" devices were found in an Aldi bag at the home of Stephen Pepper, 47, of Melbourne Avenue, Thornton-Cleveleys, as police attended a welfare call he had made.

Pepper had denied possessing three petrol bombs to endanger the life of police officers, but was found guilty after a trial at Preston Crown Court.

There was no terrorist element to the incident, but the Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown said Pepper had developed a "hatred" of police since his eldest brother was murdered a decade ago.

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Molotov cocktails similar to these were found in Pepper's home

Police and ambulance staff were contacted with concerns for his welfare at around 8.45am on October 9.

Prosecuting, David Bentley said officers attended his address in Thornton and he was "obstructive".

He let them into the property, believing they were paramedics, but when he released they were police he started being aggressive, telling officers "I'll f***ing show you" as he rummaged on the floor.

One officer withdrew Pava spray to subdue him but was unable to deploy it before he lunged at them, and had to push him over instead.

Prosecuting, Mr Bentley said: " PC Johnson instructed him to remain on the floor and formed the view the defendant represented a very real danger.

"He was then sprayed, but the Pava didn't have the immediate desired effect and they began to struggle."

The court was told the officers managed to handcuff him and he was arrested for a breach of the peace.

They were not aware of the presence of the petrol bombs - close to where he had wrestled with officers - until the address was searched.

Mr Bentley added: " PC Johnson noticed a strong smell of petrol. PC Mackie found a red Aldi shopping bag with a large blue jerry can full of petrol and three glass beer bottles full of petrol and with rags stuffed in the top."

Asked what they were for, Pepper replied: "For blowing you up."

PC Johnson noticed the defendant's clothing appeared to be covered in petrol and he had two disposable lighters in his pockets.

A machete, axe, knives, an air rifle and cannabis were also found.

The court heard at the police station the defendant made comments to officers that he had the petrol bombs to 'hold you lot at bay' while he attempted to take his own life, adding: "I was going to throw them at police."

Defending, Chris Hudson said it would be his first taste of prison.

He said: " The possession of a petrol bomb in any circumstances is dangerous but in this particular case there are factors which bring down the seriousness.

"He has acted in a very foolish and criminal manner, but it's unlikely to be repeated and he does not pose a danger."

The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown, referred to the devices as "highly destructive Molotov cocktails."

He said: " You had phoned the police to say you were having neighbour issues and were intending to kill yourself.

"Near to where you had been wrestling with the officer there was an Aldi bag which contained a jerry can and three petrol bombs.

"" Whilst in hospital you were saying you wanted to kill as many people as you could when you got out.

"There's no doubt in my mind you have had mental health issues caused by long term drug and alcohol abuse.

"It's apparent you have a hatred of police officers, or at the very least a strong dislike."